When a man crashes into Val’s red wheelbarrow, the world twists. Earth falls from mangled metal. From his exhaust, spilled oceans.
The villager who helps her doesn’t try to reinvent, just hammers dents smooth, shining. His name is Ian, his smile barrow-big.
A New Path
Upside-downed by Ian’s smile, nothing but Val’s barrow glides straight. The bumps which don’t bruise tingle across her lips, skin, belly.
Butterfly of her pulse, butterfly of their linked fingers, butterfly of black and white fluttering for them on the sonographer’s screen.
Young Old Bag
Bags of work for Ian. Nappy bags, shopping bags, bags under Val’s eyes. Their toddler’s fist a clenched heart in hers.
A single light. The door unlatched. Ian’s wooden rocker waiting.
Dust rises with every approaching footstep, then falls in a sigh.
Their son’s palm to palm kiss. Ian’s fingers stroking her neck. The memory of her mother’s hand steadying Val’s Atlased back.
Red wine for sunset evenings, for their cheeks’ glow, for Sunday roasts and bi-focal ruby-year laughter: 40, love, and not out.
The Oldest Swingers
Not his rusty joints’ squeaks, not the creak of stiffened wood. The rattle that marks her snaking hips’ every gentle sway.
The Garage Roof
Val uses her old barrow to collect recyclables. Water drips in – a hole Ian can’t fix. Their empty cans won’t float.
They forget names. Names forget them. Their son visits with the grandchildren. Leo smiles like Grandpa. Evie has Grandma’s ocean eyes.
And The Day After
Names forget names. Eyes and smiles visit. Laughter is moon-walking: small movement, mass effort. Every day now is present and past.
S.A. Leavesley is a journalist, poet and fiction writer, currently shortlisted in the Gatehouse Press New Fictions Prize 2015/16. Publications include a winning story in the ‘Oxford Today’ thriller flash competition 2014, longer short fiction published by Legend Press and flashes in The Ofi Press Literary Magazine, Rockland and Elbow Room (forthcoming). Websites: www.sarah-james.co.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org
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