Fiction

A Day In the Sun

Snow Fell On the Day I Was Born

On a cold December morning, a woman gave birth to her firstborn. She was full of love and excitement, and she held her daughter against her bare chest. The child was small, hot skin against her own, and cried out in the night from the adjacent cot while she stood guard.

The hospital ward was old and infested with cockroaches, which crawled on the ceiling and dropped on the child’s face. The mother flicked them off and did not sleep.

‘How beautiful,’ she said and cradled the small face in her palms. ‘How beautiful and precious my little babe is to me!’

The next day they brought her home. Snow fell that day and swaddled the city in a perfect blanket of silence.

Where Is Home?

The night was old and white. On the narrow empty platform stood a woman waiting for a train she did not want to board. She gathered the sleeves of her jacket in her fists and watched the snow clinging to the tracks.

What Is Yet to Come

The train whizzed past the muddy beaches, past the outlying tide, past the laced trickles it left behind, past the odd watering hole where the gulls, the heron and the pair of mutes gathered, past the young men, knee-deep in their wellies, ankle-deep and elbow-deep in the mud, rummaging for clams and mussels, past the boats, forsaken on their bellies and imprisoned. And so the train went on, past the roads, busy with returning vacationers, until it entered a tunnel of fog, and it whizzed past the whole world, or maybe nothing at all.

Here Rest Byron, Cromwell and Newton

Time and footsteps wiped their names from the stone.

He called from his grave, on which she stood unknowingly. He spoke her name as if to warn her, to tell her she mustn’t go. Her feet covered his mouth, his eyes. She silenced them all, the poet, the diplomat and the discoverer, and only her renouncing gait prevailed.

“On February 7th 1837, God Spoke to Me and Called Me to His Service”

Only a year’s difference between her and her sister. Today they sat together in the lounge while a man brushed them onto a canvas.

She glanced down, shy, sewing a handkerchief her mother had given her just before the artist arrived. How she dreaded the pointlessness of it, the needle poking through the pitiful eyes.

Her sister, pretending to read, did not fool the artist, who captured her fleeting and eager glances. She wanted to tell her she was being difficult and stubborn. She should have been happy as she was that their portrait was being taken. But she saw her perfect line of stitches, neat and equal, and said nothing.

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