WWIn 24: Greeting

Wednesday Write-in #24

Prompts:

cookie dough  ::  greeting  ::  slippery slope  ::  tin can  ::  bloom

I’m thinking more about the relationship from last week’s write-in, mother-daughter tension.

Sea Dress

She raises her hand in greeting and the years slip from me like an evening dress, the one I wore to prom. Blue, sixty pounds, the skirt ruffling in tissue-thin layers around my legs. The night I was getting ready, the limo would be arriving that a group of us had chipped in on. The bath water cooling, a nick where the razor had passed too close on my knee. In my head the newspaper article described my age, my prospects, and the strangeness of the door being locked so long. She would peck at the door, parrot chattering anxious. I remember the lock, a small metal bar you pushed across. But the narrow spiral of blood from the cut was sucked down the plug along with the dirty water, and I put the dress on with the accompanying tights, high heels, evening coat, bag.

It’s her birthday and I’ve brought her flowers, the tulips bloom violently in whites and purples. Happy Birthday, I smile, lips stretching apart over teeth. She hugs me, my arms meet across her back’s bulk, as if I’m ready to pick her up, me the adult, she is passing from me into a shrinking land. Small adjustments being made to her life, the absence of stairs, the teacups stacked in easy reach. I wonder if she remembers me going to prom, getting me to pose by a window, vase of flowers that I knocked off. Her indrawn breath as we heard the crack. She never did frame that photo. She was always telling me to be careful; it’s not her fault, these things happen. I sit in the armchair and she starts smoking, the blue fumes spool out. My bare arms in the clinging gown, first time I had worn something like that.

She is mumbling in the kitchen now, opening tins and washing them out, placing them carefully to one side. Do you remember prom? She doesn’t remember, no wait, she does, a cornflower coloured dress, and shoes to match. And you never did wear it again, did you? No, I never did. There’s a pile of cookies going soft in a tin with a robin on the front. I take one, and chew it. It’s a slippery slope back to the night of the prom, and I wear my age like a shield. Happy Birthday, I say again.

 

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8 thoughts on “WWIn 24: Greeting

  1. Hi Becca. I love this: ‘she is passing from me into a shrinking land. Small adjustments being made to her life, the absence of stairs, the teacups stacked in easy reach.’
    It’s such a great description of ageing.

  2. “shrinking land’ is a powerful metaphor. I like the photo element as well. Family relationships are so complex!

    • Glad that bit worked, I nearly deleted it as well when editing. The photo element is just a classic isn’t it. I wanted this piece to have an undercurrent of tension, but hadn’t really made my mind up where it would be coming from…

  3. I like the ‘parrot chattering anxious’ and the different memories and resentments they each have. Daughter’s smile doesn’t sound too sincere! Maybe visiting poor old Mum is a duty undertaken on birthdays and rarely otherwise.

    • That is kind of what I was trying to get across Elaine! Maybe I could rewrite the scene from the mother’s perspective to explore that resentment more? x

  4. This is great, I love exploring difficult family relationships like this, particularly a mother/daughter. I think I got a bit mixed up in where/when we were at first, because you jump from the present straight into a memory, then come back out again. But when I glanced back at the start I got it 🙂 I think the cookie bit feels a little pushed in – for the prompt? It might be neater if it ended on ‘No I never did’, it would amplify some feeling of regret or of the time she lives in now being totally removed from that past. Hmm. Just rambling.

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