A Wee Minding (extract)

Up in the graveyard, up on the hill, there’s a wee minding buried in the grass if only you can see. The wind blows and creatures watch me from beyond the broken wall. The scrub is gone all grey in the moonlight, but I know where to find her. I know she’s here.

I list them – all the things that connect me still to her. Jam, wool, petticoats, Mrs Sheppie’s tablecloth, Mr Sheppie’s rag. Also the million rivers running through my veins.

Up here I listen to the beach, to the sea sucking at the cliffs far below. Up here the wind tugs at the buttons on my frock, fingering my breastbone. Up here I’m a mermaid ploughing the grass, dipping beneath the waterline then rising again to take a gasp of air. Up here I listen for the schroosh, schroosh, schroosh of the pebbles as they walk her along the beach once more, coffin hoisted on Mr Sheppie’s shoulder, Mrs Sheppie carrying me behind.

My mother lies where she has always been these fourteen years – laid out beneath the ground, head pointing back towards the village, feet pointing out towards the sea. I curl next to her and stretch my arm across her stone. My wrist is pale in the moonlight. A slender thing, nothing but the newest branch of a tree. Easy to slice off if you know where to hold the blade.

Beneath my skin I feel it. The beat beat inside, like the beat beat that flowed out of her. My fingertips carve out all she left behind.


They never bothered to put anything else. Not even her name.


© Mary Paulson-Ellis, 2013     Read the rest in Gutter 09 from Freight