by Roger Noons
a mug of hot chocolate
I had to go back. Sixteen minutes thirty two seconds before my mother drew her last breath, I made a promise.
It was six weeks after her funeral, before I was able to board a train to Truro and then catch a bus to Falmouth. It had always been my mother’s favourite holiday destination. Many years we visited twice, staying in a boarding house, ten minutes walk from the sea. On this occasion I’d booked into an hotel overlooking Swanpool Beach.
She’d asked for her remains to be scattered on Gyllyngvase Beach. I rose early on the Sunday morning and launched Maisie Cox into the water. With no wind, the ebb tide took her away, forty two years after she’d borne me.
I was sitting in the garden reading when the owner of the hotel passed by. ‘Good book?’ He asked. I nodded. ‘There’s an excellent second hand book shop in town,’ he told me.
I found Quay Books on the Tuesday morning, when I was seeking shelter from an unexpected shower. It proved to be my kind of place. Lots of volumes, a coffee machine and armchairs. I’d just opened a book of Ted Hughes poems when the proprietor wished me good morning.
‘Not many people come in here for poetry,’ he added.
The usual conversation followed, from where and how long are you staying. When I said ‘the Black Country,’ he asked where, which told me he knew the area. As I looked at him, he flicked his head back to remove the greying flop from over his left eye. He then scratched his eyebrow and I had a suspicion he would remember Cradley Heath and a girl called Maisie.