Fictions from Bronwen Griffiths
The Sky Between Us
She is shouting to her child at the entrance to the supermarket and she is still shouting as I trail around the aisles searching for whatever it is I am supposed to buy and she is shouting as I come out through the automatic doors even though the sun is bouncing off the metal trolleys and the sky is cloudless and as beautiful as anything we might see this year. But who am I to judge? Did I not shout at my own child and did not my mother shout at me and her mother before?
I remember the afternoon when my world was cracking and I dragged you along the street and I kept yelling at you for no good reason not even caring who looked at me. That was also a day of startling sun and fearsome heat but I cannot remember the colour of the sky. What I do remember is how I was saved – how we were saved – by the path up through the small oak wood. It was so forgiving and sheltering in there.
You have survived the anger of mothers just as I have. The anger of mothers at the smallness of their lives when lockdown was every day because of the impossibility of going there or here or anywhere. The only choice a walk along the street, the need for a pushchair if the child tired, perhaps a stroll to the park with its pond and dull ducks.
That day in the oak wood I remember the softness of the ground under my feet after the hard asphalt. As I calmed. As we calmed. As we caught the sky between us.
She’s forgetting, no that’s not true because she remembers Derek and the garden and the spade digging into the cold, dark earth; the bones they found. The police were called. A girl it was. Murdered. Thirty years ago. Was it a girl? No, it was that prostitute, the one who used to walk up and down the High Street Friday and Saturday nights in high heels. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack. All the same it was terrible, she and Derek finding bones in their own garden. The police sent in the forensics. Although was it their garden or the one next door? She and Derek buried their dog under the sumac tree. What a scramble her mind is nowadays. The dog’s name was Charlotte. Or was that the girl’s name? Names aren’t important. She can recall her own, and Derek’s. She won’t forget Derek. He’s buried at St. Peter’s. No sumac for him. But it was sad about that girl.
Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two novels and two collections of flash fiction. Her flash fiction has been published in a number of online journals and print anthologies. She lives in East Sussex, UK and likes travelling to deserts, but this is not possible right now so the beach shingle has to suffice instead.