by Alyson Faye
lager and lime
Me and Ma stare at the black and white photograph in the faded leather album. ‘That’s your Da and Dom,’ Ma whispers.
She strokes the glossy image with a shaking finger. Her whole hand shakes now, it’s part of her illness.
‘They were so strong, so handsome. All the girls in the village wanted to marry them.’
‘And you got Da and Lizzy got Dom,’ I finish for her, as Ma gazes around the bedroom, as though she’s never seen it before.
In truth she’s lived here, in the Bridwood Nursing Home for nearly half a decade.
‘They loved a flutter,’ Ma wheezes. ‘The dogs, the ponies or . . .’ She is getting tired I can tell.
Da and Dom, twin brothers, born two minutes apart, but as alike as two peas in a pod, rampaging around the sleepy village of Tressick and charming their way through their lives and livelihoods. Da had gone first, in his sleep, and Dom had followed a year later, exactly to the day, which everyone in the village found – inevitable.
I close the photograph album, very very gently, and stroke the surface. It holds so much and it’s worn out by the touch of our fingertips.
‘Time for bed, Ma.’ I help her up and walk with her Zimmer towards the bed, smothered with the vintage Paisley duvet, her favourite.
‘Night, night,’ I say, ‘Sweet dreams.’
Ma blinks up at me, from her pillows, child-like and trusting. I kiss her papery cheek, smell her lavender talcum powder. The scent takes me back to my childhood days - of me sitting on the edge of the bed, swinging my legs, whilst Ma got ready to go out for a night out with Da, Dom and Lizzy, and she’d be wearing her best pearl studs and high-heeled black sateen shoes.
I still have the earrings, but Ma broke the heel on one of the shoes running for the night bus to our village and Da carried her home up the hill, even though he’d had a few pints and was staggering all over the place.
Tears prick my eyes, as I’m blind-sided by memories. Looking back – it really hits you in the present.
I close the door, but leave the night-light on. The glow makes Ma look like a caterpillar cocooned – ready to become a butterfly.
Ready to be reborn.
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