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FLIGHT — a fiction by ollie francis
My mother spent her summers on beaches, sand permanently caught between her toes. I once caught her trickling grit from a builder’s yard into her plimsolls; to make herself feel young again, she told me. It was the only kind of pedicure she cared for.
When we moved her to the flat, the pictures were the things she cared most about. My father’s first and only published work, God rest his soul, was secondary to the rows upon rows of framed photos. They had stretched across the living room wall and each one had to be taken down, wrapped, checked, and individually marked. She was terrified that there wouldn’t be space for all of them in the new place. They were ‘her’, she explained. If they didn’t fit, then neither did she. It was her litmus test.
There was an order to them; a progression not through time, but through place. It was as if, in these pictures, time didn’t matter; only the memory, the setting, the people. Brighton. Yarmouth. Charles and Henry. No dates.
I asked her how it felt to be up in the air like that. Was it weightlessness? A sort of temporary freedom that drew her to it? There must have been something in it to make her put her life in someone else’s hands like that. One bad fall and it could have been her neck.
I expected her to laugh, grin, tell me it was all worth it. She smiled, sure, but it wasn’t the smile I had been expected.
‘I have no idea,’ she told me. ‘Maybe it was because every time, I hoped we would change — that it might be my turn. You see, I always wanted to be the thrower and not the one thrown.’
The pictures all fit in the end. There was space for every one.
Originally published on Tumblr