'Wrong Entrance' by Bren Gosling

Sister’s text pleads, hurry! The cab driver’s words, Hackney to Norwich- we’ll do it in under two, repeat inside my head. No-one has spoken since. Countryside whizzes by; other cars, and we’re rumbled in the slip stream of juggernauts. My husband’s hand tries to maintain a moistened grip, I pull away. I attempt to conjure Mum’s smell in the wind billowing through half opened windows, but fail. I shut my eyes: see her combing out knots from my long hair at thirteen, wrapping school books in brown paper, the magnificent cake she made for our wedding. My hair’s a mess. Did we set the alarm?

*

The taxi pulls up at the hospital, but, wrong entrance. We go around again. Finally, in the right place. Press the lift button; up three floors, can’t find my breath, our footfall echoes along the disinfected corridor, never ending. Nods as we float past the nurse’s station, and are told In the side room. Relatives I haven’t seen in years are congregated in a semicircle, bed- centred like an altar, Mum’s corpse: jaw - dropped and toothless. She went 3 minutes ago, someone whispers.

**

I climb off my husband, then fall beside him in the afterglow of intercourse. Can’t remember the last time we did it like that - actually looking at each other: meaning it .My sister’s put us in the small back bedroom formerly occupied by her son, pre university. He’s at his girlfriend’s. Exhausted, but wide awake I can’t shift the image of those flowers I sent Mum, still in the same vase where she put them on her kitchen table two days ago. My eyes trace across a football poster. ‘We’ll go round the world,’ I say.



(Longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize 2014)

Comments

  1. Terrific writing. So much in such a short piece.

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  2. This packs it in. Good deployment of the word "corpse" - a lot of people would have been less direct, but this is the pivot of the story and (paradoxically) makes it come alive.

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