At The End Of Chapter Three

Words From A Work In Progress

Tired writer holds espresso cup and sighs

Through the rush of lockdown (care worker, more hours, no furlough, more wages for the land fund though, pros and cons) my brain has been boggled with various challenges and writing has been done in tiny bursts, scattered about like seeds out of a himalayan balsam. Concentration is returning. This part-written book has bided time, but it is creeping back to pestering me for attention, which I pretend to be annoyed by but is a heartfelt homecoming. So here is a little share from the end of chapter 3, where Old Annish is reliving her second birthday. No context, no spoilers: the plot is mostly untangled now but it could all change yet. 



In the first photograph she is cute, though frowning - the smiles around her are reassuring. Old Annish smiles too.

She has always liked these pictures.
Early memories, she thinks, are pivot-edges, where stories you are told of yourself pitch into personal recall. It’s how you become real. Details, even if they aren’t accurate, they are the marks that make you.
Does she really recall the dense colour of the velvet curtain that hung to the floor of their living room, or did the picture make the memory?
The actual pictures would be under the bed, of course, in the box under the bed.

-Two year-old Annish frowns. Dadar does not mind her shyness. Mar flows with what is, as she does, and she is saying it is fine that one daughter is stood on a wobbly chair (yes, she did have a big sister, wobbling on a chair with bunting in hand; she remembers that; Dadar made her get down though) and one is behind a curtain.
Annish had demanded to be left behind the curtain. That the guests leave. They should not be in her home, that noisy crowd. She did not want any of those packages to be presented to her!

The second picture would display a cake lathered in buttercream:
Two candles on the cake, lit.
Little Annish does not like cakes on fire.
Wenna: Wenna is the name of her big sister.
How does one forget a whole sister like that?
Old Annish frowns. Mustard yellow velvet stays in your head, but your own sister has to be called back!
Her sparkling eyed sister, her hero.

Wenna handles her panic, blowing out the flames.
This is the next photograph: Wenna with her lips pursed, Annish leaning away, Mar with her mouth open, laughing.
Wenna is happy to intercept the gifts too, that is the fourth picture. She is showing her little sister - under the paper disguise, here’s a book!

A book for colouring in and bright crayons.
There were toys, the details of which she had long since forgotten.
The photos were monochrome but some of the colours swam to life for her like the mustard-yellow of the curtains, and the crayons - forest-green, magenta, sunset-yellow - and how the wax lines were textured in bumps.

There were grown ups gathered in low hums, passing laughs and sandwiches.
Long skirts and trousers swish.
There are shoes with pretty patterns.
Uncle drinks coffee; the house holds the smell of its brewing.
Family is the background, but important. The setting.

In the last of these photographs her and Wenna lie on the floor, flat on tummies, colouring in together. Little Annish has forgotten about the guests being there, about the fire-cake and the weird concealments.
Forgetting was not so new after all, though there she was lost in action - forgetting circumstances, not herself.

So that was her, the Young Annish, and her family. Her not-too-perfect family.

Your beginnings, she thinks: an uncomplicated birth.
A blessing. The joy of creation.
Though it has been uncounted years since you thought of this, this beginning of yours, the simplicity has not been lost. You only had to look.
To be calm and feel your breath. The comfort of it.

Was that how it was?
Questions roll loose in her mind.
Old Annish is glad of it, if anything it feels wrong to be a thing fixed.
But there are things that seem set:
That death is waiting.
That there are strange bones in the box under her bed.

Granite celtic cross, carved with knotwork, against a blue sky


Colour me intrigued.
I am so glad that your muse is returning.
And a big yes on memory. Separating out the real from those which were acquired is a virtually impossible task...
Lisa Southard said…
Thank you :-) Memory is a strange thing - in this story and whenever I put the car keys down..
Lisa Southard said…
Thank you :-) It's fulfilling to be back to writing properly.
Oh wow! This is fantabulous!!! Don't you DARE abandon this story again, because it simply must be told! You've done a masterful job capturing the essence of looking at old photos, and even with this short snippet of your tale, you've dropped a bunch of intriguing hints about a deeper story that I, for one, would love to read. Write on, dear lady!

And take care. This stinking lockdown can't last forever. Have a wonderful weekend.
Lisa Southard said…
Susan if you need it writ, it will be writ! So good to hear from you and you will be pleased to know that my tardiness in blog response is down to lots of writing :-)
YES! I'm VERRRRY pleased! Keep it up!

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