• Childhood,  Family,  Friendship

    First Class

    ‘How long?’ I breathed down the phone. ‘Weeks,’ Martin’s voice choked back. The day after, at four o’clock in the afternoon, I popped around to the red-bricked house next door. Jenny was setting the table, and the smell of home-cooked cottage pie filled the air. She kindly put a teapot on for us while young Sophie played with her ice blue princess castle. ‘Does she…’ I asked, narrowing my eyes. Jenny shook her head. ‘We need to. But I just…’ Her cup shook against her saucer. ‘Let me help,’ I offered, placing my aged hand over hers. Her skin was so young. ‘How?’ Her eyes were lost, strong, and full…

  • Childhood,  Dreams,  Family,  Friendship

    Just a Toy

    Fourteen foster homes in fourteen years. Every year, a new home. There was always something. Not the right fit, just a temporary thing, they had to relocate immediately, too much of a strain on the family, behavioural issues, it’s just not working out. No room for error, no room for failure. One big mistake, and I was gone. And at fourteen years old, it was not hard to make one big mistake. I was expelled on the second day of my new school with my thirteenth foster family. On the third, I was gone. By that point, I couldn’t imagine ever becoming a piece in that well-known puzzle we know…

  • Dreams,  Family,  Romance

    My Mary

    Clad in sooty black leather, my Mary roared about the seaside village from the unripe age of sixteen. When she rode, her vanilla hair whipped out of her helmet, which she only wore because her father demanded it, her slick smile grew ten inches, and that jacket she wore burnt under the relentless sun like a lump of hot coal. She was a lioness. And the village folk didn’t take kindly to it. They harrumphed and tutted. My Mary heard the whisperings, but it didn’t bother her a jot.  And then she met me. An awkward, gangly fellow who resembled more of a dizzy flamingo than a strapping lion. But…

  • Childhood,  Family

    The Begonias

    ‘Mum, can we go now?’ Samuel groaned, tugging his mum’s Gillet as she perused a selection of begonias. ‘Almost, darling.’ She read a tag. Samuel rolled his eyes and watched a man who looked like a goat fill his trolley with spiky plants. There were plants everywhere, and everyone thought the world of them! His mum thought more highly of them than her own son. What could a plant do that he couldn’t? Talk back maybe. ‘Mum, it’s been hours,’ he tried again. ‘Samuel, please,’ she snipped like a pair of pruning shears. ‘Excuse me!’ she called over to an assistant to talk through the begonias who had become her…

  • Family

    Our Last

    The warm weight of her head against my rising and falling chest, her deep breathing in and out, her lead body as still as a starry night sky. My lips sticking against her hot, fine hair, her lashes beautifully trimming her dainty lids, her matchstick thumb resting against her cherry bottom lip. My precious two-year-old, exhausted, vulnerable, sleeping soundly on well-trodden ground, as once was the norm, probably for the very last time.

  • Childhood,  Family,  Friendship

    Freeze Frame

    Change comes to us all. A tight-knit family, torn by disagreement. A pandemic that alters the very idea of human interaction. Change came to me. When I look back, I see a video. Characters entering and exiting like actors in a Shakespearean play, scenery morphing in the background, colours, shapes, shades blurring in the fast-paced journey I travelled. Yet, one still image remains. The one I look back to, pine for, the days when I couldn’t imagine anything changing, when I was utterly happy. When my Dad took my brother and me to the local motor shows. We were allowed to pick one toy car from a mountain of them…

  • Family

    Memory’s Perfume

    Salty sea air. As soon as the scent hits my nostrils, I’m jolted back to the days of high-pitched giggles, knotted sandy blonde hair, smooth skin like sun-kissed pebbles, drawn-out blush-evenings with whispering waves. Days with my daughter, just us, carefree. When she was young, when we were close. Where no troubles existed, where we never disagreed. Ice cream was a must for us both, even in January. A swim was a necessity, though not in January. Days with my daughter, just us, carefree. Now, she’s grown, with a daughter of her own. And I’m grown, with a daughter miles from her home. Days with my husband, just us, careworn.…

  • Family

    Snow Day

    As if all the rooftops in our town were fairy cakes, one cold night, God decided to finish them all off with a dusting of icing sugar. The following morning, the whole town was cloaked in nature’s glitter. Sparkling spider webs adorning shrubs, solid blades of grass welcoming the lick from the morning sunshine, piles of thick fresh snow waiting to be crunched and rolled into snowmen. After a dull, blustery Saturday where no one in the family seemed at all happy, that morning was like a breath of fresh seaside air filling our lungs. Even Dave, who had been in a stupor all week from a hard slog at…

  • Family

    Something Bright

    ‘Mummy?’ Sophie asks, flinging our linked hands to and fro. ‘Yes?’ I answer mindlessly, strolling along the path hedged in by weather-beaten fences. Shouting pierces the atmosphere from a nearby house. ‘What is hope?’ she blurts out from under her purple bobble hat. She stares at the ground as she avoids the cracks. Where did that come from? Four-year-olds might not have the strength to throw a boomerang across a field, but they can swing a heavy-loaded question no problem. ‘Why do you ask, darling?’ Her wispy blonde hair flies in front of her wide blue eyes. ‘The man on the TV said hope when you was watching it. About…

  • Friendship

    Beauty

    Cocooned in an expensive, beige coat, adorned with enough gold to make a Christmas tree happy, and masked with the perfect colour palette for my skin tone, I almost laugh out loud at the absurdity of each tear that drips down to my Jimmy Choo ankle boots. Click-clack. Click-clack. No one seems to notice as I stride through the heaving crowd over the bridge sheltering the river. The water glistens as every ray hits it. Click-clack. Click-clack. The scars beneath my clothes. Imperfect lines burnt into my skin from the months of growing a baby. Boobs shrunk to the size of flying saucer sweets from the months of that baby…