Tag Archives: Blues-Buster

Blues Buster: Long Snake Moan

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Harry’s head swayed and the vein in his temple throbbed as the beat from the party, back on the dunes, thudded through his brain. The moon’s silvered rays cast a diamond pathway before him as he closed his eyes and waded into the deep. Sand caressed his toes and pieces of drifting seaweed curled around his legs. Harry’s heart beat like a jackhammer as he walked, pushing through the sea, allowing the comforting warmth to exorcise his demons. He glanced behind. The beach was almost silent, the only sound the lapping of waves about his belly, rising up to his chest and down again, the thud of the party left far behind, as was his spiteful battle with Angelique.

A sigh escaped his lips and he bent his knees; the water closed over his shoulders and then over his head and he rose, shaking salt and ocean from his hair. He gazed up at the moon and drank in its cool calm, almost regretting the words he and Angelique had shared. He lifted his feet from the ocean floor and relaxed backwards, letting the swell pick him up and cradle him like a baby.

He played the fight over in his head as he floated, and the motion of the waves hypnotised him, drowning his aggression and burying it deep below. Angelique’s voice floated through the dark, its vicious edge lost in the calm of the night, and Harry grinned.

Angelique’s murmur captivated him as he bobbed on the ocean, and his hands moved rhythmically through the water as he turned to face the shore, and his girlfriend. Forgiveness sang in his heart and he lowered his legs to stand. Panic struck, just for a moment, as he realised how far out he’d floated, and then Angelique’s arms embraced him from behind and he let her move him through the water. Her sultry words echoed and her kisses rained down on his lips, then his shoulder, and then on his chest and her hands caressed his body beneath the sea. His heart quickened and blood rushed as her lips tasted his.

He floundered again as his feet searched for the sandy floor, but her legs entwined his and her insistent kisses pushed deeper. He tried to relax and enjoy the seduction, but the night grew darker, as the moon fled behind clouds, and the ocean grew colder. Harry tried to extricate himself from her embrace, but her arms were everywhere and her song weaved through his brain. He kicked and pushed, and gulped as his head dipped below the water. He spluttered and coughed and fought for the surface…swallowing sea as he burst through the watery ceiling.

Free from her grip, he kicked away and turned to find his bearings. His head spun as he tried to locate the shore. The moon peeped out, but offered no help and Angelique’s body slithered towards him through the silver sea. He tried to swim, but she was upon him and dunking him back beneath the ocean before he could escape. Her arms entwined him in chains of steel and her breath whispered across his skin and he sank as her kisses feathered his lips.

No one but the moon saw the futile struggle amid the ocean waves, and no one but the moon saw the crude voodoo figure rudely and hurriedly constructed from driftwood and fishing line, half buried in the sand at Angelique’s feet. The wind whispered through Angelique’s dry hair, and she smiled to herself as she settled into the eager arms of another partygoer, and as the beat thudded behind her she rained kisses down on her new beau’s lips.

(612 Words)

Another Blues Buster prompted by P J Harvey’s ‘Long Snake Moan’. Hop over to The Tsuruoka Files to read more tales…

Blues Buster: The Hungry Wolf

My Blues Buster from the prompt ‘The Hungry Wolf’ by X over at The Tsuruoka Files.

24. Blues Buster The Hungry Wolf

Photo taken from my old calendar!

The Hungry Wolf

The orange glow of streetlamps cast an amber aura over my body as I sprinted through the streets, but I hurried through the nightlife so lightly that barely anyone noticed me. I slipped unseen, like a ghost, amongst the Friday-night revellers, moving in time to the heartbeats that echoed about me. The crowds thinned as I moved west and chatter grew quieter as the hour grew later, but I continued running, my belly hungry.

The aroma of meat, of fast food and the sour stench of sweat, and the strong odour of urine, filtered through my senses as I dodged a group of women on unwieldy heels that couldn’t walk in a straight line. I snorted and ducked low as they clattered past. The last woman, drenched in chemical pheromones, turned back catching my eye. She gazed at me and her pupils widened as longing wafted over the midnight chill. I jogged away, moving swiftly and surely, ignoring her need.

I hurried on, my heart hammering and my eyes searching.

Darkness spread as neon lights faded, and the fragrance of sweet honeysuckle filled the air. I inhaled, my senses heightened, and my craving deepened. I left the streets, turning down an alleyway filled with the perfume of white flowers and night’s jasmine. My belly rumbled and a growl rose within my throat, grumbling out into the dusk.

I loped down the lane, my paws padding on the pavement, my nose close to the ground and innate desire rising in my stomach.

Azaleas, purple and magenta, fluttered, and wisteria climbed across the walls, and rails, and up over the door at the top of the steps. Light flooded the courtyard from an open window above and soft music wafted across the piazza. I paused at the foot of the steps, panting, my tongue lolling between my teeth, and my fur ruffling in the late breeze. I stared up at the door and the shadow that danced across the lunette. The moon reflected in the crescent window and I resisted the urge to howl, but my blood boiled beneath my heavy coat.

The door clicked open and there she was long and lean, and standing against the doorframe, one leg crossed over the other and her breast heaving as she gazed down the steps. Her hand hovered at her hip and her eyes glistened in the moonlight, and I rocked on my haunches. She smiled, showing white teeth and scarlet lips and my heart quickened. Her finger curled and she beckoned me.

I howled, my call echoing far and wide, and she stroked her décolletage, and there was no holding me back.

As the door closed behind me and the full moon bathed the house, she buried her face in my fur and my soul exploded. My body shivered and my fur rippled, and moments later I stood before my love, as naked and furless as the day I’d entered the world.

I caught up my wife in my arms and carried her upstairs determined to make the most of our night before daybreak tore us apart…

(518 Words)

Blues Buster: Broken Up

Having finished an intense period of editing, flash fiction calls! The prompt for this week’s Blues Buster over at The Tsuruoka Files is The Break-Up Song by The Greg Kihn Band.

Drinks Drunk

Please do not use without permission © Lisa Shambrook

Broken Up

My head thumped in time to the music, and my hand shook as I raised the tumbler to my lips. I downed the shot and slammed the glass onto the bar.

“Another,” I growled.

The barman opened his mouth to speak but I shook my head, and he shrugged as he poured the drink. I lifted the glass and the harsh liquid burned its way down my throat.

“And again!” I demanded.

“Not my business,” he said as he placed another shot before me.

“Damn right!” I scowled, oscillating the molten fire within the glass and staring into its hypnotic depth.

This one slipped mellifluously down my throat, pooling in the centre of my chest, raising a gilded shield around my swollen heart. The music slowed, and my anger softened, and the swaying bodies filling the dance floor merged together into a rainbow of swirling colours.

This time the barman anticipated my request, and the glass appeared on the shiny counter leaving a trail of silver water shimmering in its wake. I caught it into my hand and spilled the golden glaze as my hand trembled. I fastened both hands about it, to stop it dancing, and laughed as its twin hovered before my eyes.

“You okay?” asked a voice at my side, and I spun on my stool, my head following moments later.

A shock of red hair tumbled down upon her shoulders and concern shone from her eyes. I nodded. “Is he all right?” She turned to the barman, who shrugged and moved to another customer.

“I’m fine,” I slurred. “Just having a good night, a good riddance night…all to myself. So if you don’t mind moving on…”

“Leave him.” Her friend tugged her away and they disappeared into the throng.

“We broke up!” My words echoed incoherently inside my head and faded into the music. “We finished!” I had no idea who I was talking to; the red-head or the barman or anyone who would listen. “We’re done, really done, finished forever this time!” My voice rose, whining through the music and the dizzy dancing. “Another drink, my man!”

Lights flashed, beats shook, sirens wailed, and I clasped the new, cold glass in my unsteady fingers. The drink sloshed over the sides, and I hurriedly sucked at it before I let go as it threatened to slide out of my grip.

“And another!”

“No more…” The voice was soft and mellow and I turned to the red-head.

“I told you honey, I’m done with women…” I blinked at the woman as her ponytail shook along with her head.

“Yes, you are,” she said. “For rather a long time, I’d imagine.”

The glass slipped from my hand, rolling, empty, across the bar, neon lights sparkling across its glistening surface. Blue lights revolved from the door as my arms were pulled behind my body and the click of metal reverberated through my spinning mind.

“Anything you say…” I tuned out as she recited my rights, and the night’s shots threatened to reappear.

More hazy shots rang out in my head, ones resurfacing in my memory, from a couple of hours ago. My legs yielded, and as I fell to the floor I recalled her body, her eyes, her blood, as she crumpled before me. As the policewoman at my side pulled my gun from my belt, I knew that tears and booze and no amount of drink in the world would ever conceal my sins.

(576 Words)

Blues Buster: When Hope Dies

Jumping into a Blues Buster over at The Tsuruoka Files and this week’s prompt is ‘In The Dark’ by Nina Simone.

When Hope Dies

Door Rusted Door Instagram

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)

Sleep evaporated as the bare bulb flickered, and shadows danced on the rusty door as he burst into the room. I turned towards him as my heavy eyelids opened. His eyes softened and butterflies fluttered in my stomach. His footsteps pounded across the floor, quickly covering the space between us. Just a few paces away, he paused and I leaned up on my elbow. My body moved slowly and his lip curled in a wry smile as I cursed.

I am one of the last.

I was lightheaded, and the hum of the generator chugging away next door filled my ears, or maybe my heightened senses filled the silence, I wasn’t sure. I lifted my body, gently swinging my legs over the side of the bed and stared at him.

That smile I adored tickled his lips. I sighed and held up my hand as he stepped closer. I shook my head and he waited and as I gazed my belly growled.

“Hungry?” He chuckled.

My eyes slaved across his body as I nodded. “Oh, yes,” I replied.

Pins and needles tingled in my toes, spreading across my feet and up my calves. I let the sensation spread and die then stretched my toes and feet. I felt life flood back into my exhausted body.

A machine blipped and I dragged my eyes from him. Wires fed from the machine into my hand and I considered the device I was attached to.

“I’m still waiting…” his voice pierced me and I grinned, pulling the cannula from the back of my hand.
Crimson bloomed, pulsing like the blood coursing through my quivering heart. I tore a strip of the grimy sheet beneath me and wound it around my hand. An automated voice, which crackled, echoed in the stark, empty room. “Life preservation terminated. Life preservation ter…” I pulled the lead from its base and stared into his eyes, a smile of promise flowering on my pale face.

He stepped forward, reaching me in only one step, and placed his fingers on my lips, his gentle fingertips pressing lightly against my dry mouth. My heart somersaulted and my mind whirled as he leaned close. His fingers trailed down my chin, tracing the contours of my neck and across my collarbone. I shuddered, my breath catching in my throat and tingles exploding as his fingers danced across my translucent skin.

The generator in the adjacent room sputtered and gulped and abruptly stopped. The light flickered off plunging my room into darkness. I heard my own gasp echo softly as he whispered in my ear “Stay still, please, be still…” and his breath sighed across my neck.

I relaxed in the blackness letting his lips caress my skin, letting his scent wind itself into my brain, letting his touch simmer in my memory.

Maybe I am the last, I can’t remember anymore. So for a few minutes more, hours even, I’ll take my romance in the dark, until I’m finally gone and there’s nothing left behind…

(502 Words)

Blues Buster: Not Enough

It’s the Blues Buster Anniversary, a year of music-prompted flash fiction and lots of fun over at The Tsuruoka Files. This week’s song is “She’s Too Good For Me” by Warren Zevon…and my tale:

Blues Buster Not Enough

Photo by Bekah Shambrook
(Please do not use)

My hands shook.

She became my world the first moment I saw her, yeah, a cliché, I know, but it’s true. One glance was all it took and I was gone, hook, line and the proverbial sinker! She didn’t want me though, nope, I wasn’t her type, but that didn’t stop me trying and trying some more. I caught her too, oh yes, and I lost my heart, don’t want to admit that, but I did, for real.

My knees trembled and I struggled not to retch.

When I saw her walk down the aisle clutching her daddy’s arm, a halo of gold framing that pretty little face of hers, I just about thought I was in heaven. I slipped that ring onto her dainty finger and thought I’d hit the jackpot!

I flinched and shivered as I stared at the floor.

I got wound right round that pretty little finger. She had everything she wanted, I made sure of that, everything and anything, she only had to ask and she got it. She only had to smile at me, flutter those long lashes and I’d have reached right up into the night sky and given her the moon if she’d asked for it.

A strangled sob rose in my throat.

I thought we had it all, I certainly did! When she gazed at me, my heart did flip-flops, somersaults, crazy stuff, and her blue eyes trapped my soul. Did I really say that? Yes, I did, because it’s true. It’s always been true, from the first time I saw her, like I already told you. I drowned in those eyes and I wasn’t the only one. I knew I wasn’t the only one, I’ve seen how other men look at her.

I wiped the back of my hand across my nose, sniffing loudly.

Other men, yeah, they could look, but they sure couldn’t touch, she was mine. She was always mine. From the moment she said ‘I do’ she was mine.

Blood pooled on the clean, white tiles and the knife glinted in my hand.

You know I’d have given her anything, you know that don’t you? Anything she wanted, it would have been hers.

I licked my cracked lips as sweat trickled down my back.

He stared up at me as he collapsed, his hands, grasping his belly, as scarlet as the tulips in the vase by the front door, her favourite flowers.

Turns out I wasn’t everything she needed.

(412 Words)  

Blues Buster: Images of Heaven

Now my WIP is off in the hands of Beta readers…I can relax a little and get some flash fiction down. So today, here’s my Blues Buster for The Tsuruoka Files. The prompt song is Images of Heaven by Peter Godwin.


Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)

Images of Heaven

Her pink dress fluttered in the breeze, I squinted, my vision blurring as she waltzed closer, not really pink, paler than that, but it fluttered all the same. She’d been dancing all day, ever since I woke, ever since I regained consciousness with a skunk in my throat. I watched morbidly transfixed as she danced across the grass, bare feet stepping lightly and a pirouette beneath the sun.
Sweaty runners hurried by, their neon trainers padding on the asphalt, but even their blur couldn’t hide the dancer.
Tired mothers pushed buggies, and threw glances of contempt my way, hurriedly calling back recalcitrant toddlers who strayed my way. School children filled the path in front of me, loitering and shouting, and spitting and swearing. I glared and they backed away from my shaking fist as I took a swig from my bottle. Businessmen snatched late conversations on mobile phones and glanced at their watches. Businesswomen hurried past with barely a gaze, gulping down coffees from Starbucks and checking their iPads, and I waited for rush hour to fade.
By early evening, I relaxed into the bench, my usual corner, and drank. She danced, showing no sign of letting up and if I drank more, knocked it back, maybe she’d go…
Dog walkers, the park’s evening invasion of choice. Labradors bounded past, springer spaniels pulled at their leads, and a German shepherd walked sedately by its knowing golden-brown eyes boring into me. A little old lady walked a tiny puffball and I let out a guffaw that made the old thing tremble. I shrank as a big black dog on a retractable lead snuffled up to the park bench.  I glared and it replied with a growl baring its teeth, and its owner threw a horrified glance my way before yanking the lead and hurrying on.
But still my dancer danced.
I watched as her small, lithe body balanced on toes, and her arms moved with grace and beauty. As the sun’s ball of hellfire began to set, its golden tones settled on her long, pale hair.
The evening chill thrust through my bones and I shivered, settling back into the bench as the sun pooled in molten gold on the horizon. Before the sun dropped behind the world I leaned forward, and stared at the fluttering gauzy skirt, her white hair and her graceful moves. As the night hid her from me, I recalled a mental image, a photograph in my mind, and I supressed a strangled sob.
A pair of giggling lovebirds wandered past, they paused as they saw me, but I curled my lip and the moon glinted on my bottle. They moved on hurrying away through the darkened park.
The silver moon, a shining sickle, threw rays upon the frosty trees as well as my bottle, and danced on the girl’s shimmering locks. Her pale skin glowed in the dark and her gossamer dress fluttered, as did my chest.
I shivered.
They say dead men are visited by the ghosts of their wrongs. My lascivious gaze recognised the pale pink dress, the gauzy tutu, the delicate limbs and her tiny heart-shaped face. I recalled my wrongs vividly as she visited me that night, the ghost of my forgotten past.
As the early morning sun peered over the trees in the park, and mist swirled across the grass, a Labrador snuffled at the foot of my park bench. The brown bottle chinked and clattered to the ground, released from my cold, stiff hand, and as the dog’s owner stifled a shriek, I faded, disappearing into the eternal depths of damnation.

(601 Words)

Blues Buster: Not From Here

My Blues Buster for The Tsuruoka Files…written for the prompt song: ‘I’m Not From Here’ by James McMurtry.

Not From Here

Rain stings my face, tiny pinpricks in the swirling wind. My elbows press tight against my side, my lower arms at right angles, tense, hands outstretched. The wind whips through my hair, and I dare not lift my hand any further to brush it away, so it remains stuck to my cold, wet cheek.
I open my eyes and squint at the panorama.
The city spreads before me, grey and distant. The tall buildings, the banks and offices, rise, as rigid as my body, towering over the streets and its inhabitants. Smoke coils from the government buildings, huge billowing clouds of soot and ash, and my lip curls.
I yearn for the rolling hills of green and a clear cerulean sky as I stare at the city below. I don’t belong here.
My toes claw inside my trainers and my arms shoot out from my side as a vicious gust of wind whistles past. I lick my lips and close my eyes. My heart races, my eyelid twitches, and my chest constricts. My mouth is dry and I can barely breathe. My frame sways and my leg muscles stiffen, my feet desperate to grip and I almost lose my balance.
I open my eyes. The undulating meadows of my childhood are as lost as this city and I would no longer belong there either.
My fingers stretch out as sirens permeate my fractured psyche. I stare at the cars moving aside in slow columns as fire-engines snake through the narrow streets, and people, strangers, swarm like ants, and I let my tears fall as biting as the rain on my face.
The wind picks up again and I lurch, my heart in my mouth. Sweat oozes beneath my thin shirt and I shiver.
Beneath me, chains clang against metal, the sound vibrating up the steel, tickling my feet through the rubber soles of my shoes. I want to fling back my head and scream, let my howl echo across the flat overcast skies. I don’t move.
The scream bubbles in my throat and dies upon the desert dryness of my tongue. I blink, no longer seeing the burning city below, but just a blur of tears and rain.
The girder rocks beneath my feet and my arms steady me as the wind shrieks its rage winding round my legs. The hook shakes under my feet and the jib arm sways. I teeter.
My mind reels and my heart sinks slowly to the pit of my belly. I let a smile curve on my lips and now, light-headed, I lift my arms, embracing the city as flames lick the horizon behind the business quarter.
I welcome this final moment, a moment of belonging, and then the gale that feeds the flames below whips my legs from beneath me and I fall. Maybe, this time, I’ll end up where I belong…

(479 Words)

5. Blues Buster Not From Here

Photo manipulation
by Lisa Shambrook
(Please do not use without permission)

Blues Buster: Heavy in your Arms

So after a hiatus for us to write for NaNo…Jeff’s Blues Buster is back over at The Tsuruoka Files. The tune we’re writing to is ‘Heavy in your Arms’ Florence and The Machine…and I’m keen to get back in to some flash fiction!
Water Crown by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
Heavy in your Arms
The day I drowned, I gazed at his hands and I grasped his arms, strong and veined, and covered with dark, downy hair. His hands were smooth, soft and firm. I gazed into his eyes, ice blue and deep, and I drowned in their depth.
I gazed at his lips. He drew me close, devouring my mouth with words, whispered words of love, of adoration and lust. I drowned as he pressed his mouth to mine and inched his tongue past my teeth. Fire burned, smouldering in my belly, and rising with every prickle on my pale skin.
His breath murmured in my hair, his zephyr of longing entwining every lock, and my fingers touched the crown on my head, a circlet of threaded silver and diamond dewdrops.
His hands, those strong hands, rested on my back, and his lips nibbled my neck, and I succumbed.
* * *
The sun shone down in rays of gold, tickling my burning skin, and he chuckled at my naivety. He stood and beckoned down by the water’s edge, and blushing in my exposure I stepped into the river. Cool water lapped at my feet and my legs, and I smiled, nervously, as he took my hand. My fingers shot to my head, as the circlet slipped, insecure in my tangled, golden tresses.
I gazed at him, stood before me, a man in every way, and laughed as the sun glistened against the jewelled crown atop his unruly mop of curls. His laughter matched the gurgling brook, and he took me in his arms, water breaking gently at our waists.
I didn’t expect his sudden move, his firm grip and the icy fear that enveloped me beneath the water. My eyes were lost in the murky depths of swirling river, weed entwining my feet, and hands, those strong hands, holding me beneath the surface. I opened my mouth in pain as the crown entangled in my hair was divorced from my head. I gripped his arms, my hands moving up and down his flexing muscles, until my hands fell loose and I drowned for the second time that day.
I watched as he waded from the river with tears decorating his face, and my circlet in his fingers.
* * *
Now I watch as he sits upon my throne, as he courts wanton women, and as he rules in my stead. I watch, and I wait.
My translucent arms, watery and heavy, rest upon his shoulders. His expression betrays him as he raises his hand, to wipe a stray raindrop, but no rain has fallen.  Fear grips as he travels the castle corridors and beholds puddles on the floor. His smooth hands touch the crown upon his head, and the gold feels like iron, cold and heavy, like the ice that decorates his bedroom, bringing impotence and dread.
He slips silently into madness in his sun drenched palace.
I chill his soul with every step, binding him to my heavy heart, until his crown is frozen, his hands are soaked with my pain, and his feet are burdened with dread.
Then when fear grips in the dead of night, when darkness abounds and seizes his mind, I drown him…I drown him in his own nightmares…
* * *
Now he floats to me, on a river of heavenly light, and I beckon. He moves on my zephyr of breath, and he smiles as I gaze, and I blush. Relief and arrogance bloom on his cheeks as he dances forward, free of his watery incubus. I promise much, but I never deliver, and I thrust him away, down, back down into his heavy body, on a cold, wet bed.  His arms flail and his hands, those strong hands, beg…
And I drown him, every night…
(632 Words)

Blues Buster: Into the West

A haunting, lilting song accompanies this piece…‘I am Going to the West’ by Connie Drover for this week’s Blues Buster at The Tsuruoka Files.

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
Into the West
Cobwebs undulated in the chilled breeze in the dark corner of the kitchen. She hugged her knees to her chest and squinted at the luminescence from the fridge. The glow disappeared abruptly as he slammed the refrigerator door and opened a can with a malicious hiss. His boots clomped across the linoleum and he callously stepped over her feet. The lounge door clicked shut releasing only a thin strip of yellow light to invade her gloom.
The television blared, her heart pounded and thunder growled throughout her head. Her ears buzzed a high-pitched, tinny sound that threatened to drive her mad. Her body hurt, pain seared through every muscle, every sinew, and her fingers clasped tight around her knees, holding herself together.
She slowly unfurled her fingers, intensely aware of pain. She looked down and bent her index finger, crunching the bones as she righted its angle. Anguish and agony clutched, sinking its ready talons into her fading heart. She stared vacantly at the grease-spattered kitchen tiles, the overflowing crockery in the sink, the broken plate on the floor and her shattered dreams, crushed and ground into the bloody lino at her feet.
A sliver of white light glanced through the grimy window and she cast her gaze towards the beam. She rose, slowly, nervously, and stepped lightly towards the window, her bare feet treading numbly across the splintered china. At the window she pressed her cheek against the cool glass and stared up at the shimmering moon. 
Clouds drifted across the night sky and she stared into their depths, imagining mountains and valleys, and sparkling streams. Starlight sprinkled oceans that swam across the sky and she dived into the glittering deep. She swam, embraced in velvety water, warmth seeping into her cold bones, releasing seized muscles and soothing tension. The moon moved west, casting rays of hope across the navy night, and she burst out of the ocean, wandering on soft pillows of cotton-wool. She danced across waves of green, rolling between the clouds, burying her feet in meadows of everlasting flora and rivers of swaying grass.
She gazed across the firmament, dipping into her dreams, renewing hope. Her bower waited, a copse wreathed within mists and emerald green. She stepped lightly across the night, and settled, resting beneath heaven’s verdant canopy and wind’s gentle blanket, her mind at ease and pain long gone. 
Cobwebs undulated in the chilled breeze in the dark corner of the kitchen. A draught blew through the grimy window and ruffled the hair of her broken shadow that lay cold and still.  
(428 Words)

Blues Buster: Missing

Didn’t think I had time this week, but the song spoke to me: Everything But The Girl ‘Missing’…so here’s my Blues Buster for Jeff over at The Tsuruoka Files.

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook and Pixromatic (please do not use…it is me)

I stare at the thin sliver of yellow light in the upstairs window as it escapes from behind the drapes. Tears smart and a silver coil swirls from my lips as I rub my gloved hands together. I run my finger along the rusted gate, watching shards of frost gather and drop. The pounding in my chest threatens to fell me and it takes every ounce of resolve to move my leaden legs and walk away.
My boots clump on the glittering, early morning pavement, as they have every day this week. I retrace yesterday’s footprints to the end of the street and slide round the corner. There, against the rows of garage doors, I give in to my tears and feel the sting of warmth roll down my frozen cheeks. Dark spots appear on my mackintosh, and my hands shake as I lift them to my face.

I gather wits and wipe away tears, and push away from the wall. I walk a familiar path, decorated with the ghost of my little, pink bicycle speeding uninhibited around the corner, and I smile. Children’s voices dance in my recollection and thirty-year-old pictures invade the street, warming up the cold morning, bathing the pavement in tinged faded memories of childhood.
As I reach the gate, upstairs curtains shift. A tempest whirls within my heart as I stand by the gate. The curtain drops and I push the gate open. Metal screeches against the ground, like it always did, and I flinch as it echoes across the sleepy neighbourhood. I drag my feet up the path and try not to slip on my rubbery legs. The door is new, white and plastic, not blue and broken.

A light snaps on behind the door and it takes everything I have not to turn and flee. Nausea rises, my stomach churns and I’m breathless. My hands shake, and I shiver with more than the frosty morning chill.
I imagine her face, lined and old, but familiar and…and what? It had been almost twenty years since I left; my soft, compliant hand in the firm grip of a social worker. I’d gone without a fight, because I’d had no fight left.
Now the door opens and I stare. She stands in a stark flood of light. I swallow, my throat as dry as the desert, and choke out something incomprehensible.
She places a hand on my arm. “Are you alright?” she asks in an alien voice.
I nod.
“You’ve stopped outside every day this week,” she continues.
I nodded again.
“Have you got the right address?” Her face is gentle with concern. “Come on in, you look shattered.”
I shake my head. “Mrs Fenwick…”
She shakes her head. “No one here by that name.” She gazes past me. “Maybe…several tenants ago.”
“Do you know where..?”
She shakes her head again. “I’m sorry my love, past my time, and old Mrs Davies, next door, passed away, so she won’t know, and the Andrews are gone too…”
I step back, my feet almost tripping over each other.
“Won’t you come in? It’s so cold out there.”
I shake my head and sniff. I want this lady’s arms around me.
“Who was she?” asks the lady.
I shake my head again and I rush away down the old familiar path, the words barely making it out of my mouth as I run. “My mother…”

(566 Words)