flashfiction, short story


(As seen at Litro )


In the middle of me saying something – “Hang on, Terry’s up.” And she’s off, to fix my brother. While she’s gone, I gaze at the gaps in my nail varnish, where the flesh shows through, watch the light off the sea in the sky.

No trace of irony, she’ll come back to the kitchen and say, “Mothers’ ears. Don’t miss a thing,” before going on to something else. “I’m sleeping on a razor’s edge,” she boasts down the phone to her friends. “Terry snuffles: I’m up and ready.” I think of putting razors under her pillow. She looks at me and waves my hand away from my hair, which I’m throttling again, unconsciously.

I try to test her powers. ‘Accidentally’ close all the doors between us and babe. Move him to another room, higher up in the house. He, in my arms, smiles up, Baby Lotioned fatness squashing up over his eyes. I sniff his head, you have to, and very lightly pop his entire bud of a mouth into mine, which makes him gurgle inside my cheeks.

No such luck. She hears him, wherever I take him. She’s a loaded spring.

One day, today, I come home from school, reeking after being Febreze-bombed in the corridors, not that I need it, not that I smell, the girls in question just don’t like me. (Agnes, Keisha and Amber, if anyone cares). I can taste it in my nose and mouth, “this invigorating blend of lemony verbena, crisp cucumber and watery notes”, running home along the seafront.

She doesn’t even notice me come in.

I can see the sea from my room. Open the window, I can hear it. It’s roaring this evening. The air’s full of sand and salt, flying around. My uniform quickly ripped off and round my feet, I let the wind tickle at the stink clinging to me. My door flies open with a bang. I wish I could leave the windows and doors open, let the beach blow in and smother her, maybe not really, but maybe. She used to let me bury her in the sand for fun, when it was the two of us. I always dug her out again. I don’t know.

“Mum!” I yell down the stairs, pulling on jeans and a t-shirt. “I’m taking Terry to the beach!”


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