Four Left Turns

By Pierre Perera

In ‘79 the hospital tastes like starch and linseed oil. Thanks to the fall, her vision has grown fuzzy, but she can still make out the vague, grey mass of him beside the bed. The silk scent of honeysuckle from the windowsill reminds her of the day they met. Gold light stabs her eyes and she is unsure if it is just a memory. A cold, cracked hand closes over her own, and she decides it is time she left him.

In ‘53 the last egg had split, yellow mucus running down her sleeve instead of into the bowl. Tear up the ration book, that’s what the radio said, and she had smiled. She would not have to send him next door for the extra ten grams now, or wonder why it takes half an hour for him to come back. The side door squeals as she steps out, tips the crushed shells amongst the earth to keep away the slugs, and pauses a second too long before heading back.

In ‘41 a siren wakes her and the bed is already empty. The searchlights seem too far away to help, shadows dancing over the clouds, the panicked, sleepy rush of people tramping into cellars or half built bunkers in the garden. It is colder without the children, and with only three tins of beans and a blanket they huddle in the dark, sharing each others’ sour warmth, thinking that one way or another, at least it’ll be over.

In 1924 the silk scent of honeysuckle fills the lane but she cannot make out the flowers. The sunset burns auburn in her eyes as he talks, smooth, but with not quite enough sugar. At the crossroads he asks if she will join him. The road back to town, glowing bright, stretches out like a line of memories. But this time she turns into the glare, his voice fading rancid behind her as she makes her way home.

Pierre works for the civil service and isn’t entirely sure why he is here. When he isn’t busy playing his Nintendo Switch (bought as a bribe to get him to complete NaNoWriMo), attending writing classes of visiting the North of England, he’s trying to work out if he likes short stories, flash fiction or novels the best.

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