8. MUM'S MEMORIES

8. MUM'S MEMORIES

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Taylor is besotted by the photo of a girl he doesn't know

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There was going to be no hiding it. Mr Tomsk had produced for him an enlargement of the image he had waited for a whole week and a bit to see, and the last thing he was going to do was hide it away.

He wanted to see it when he lay in his bed at night, ready for sleep before he switched his light off, and he wanted to see it first thing in the morning when he woke up and the sun had found a way between his curtains, and was shining on it.

It might have been only in monochrome black and white, devoid of the colours of life, but his imagination could add those all right, because even in a multitude shades of grey it was a picture of life.

So who is she, Taylor?” asked his mum.

How do you answer a question like that? Who was she? She was a girl he’d seen for little more than a fleeting moment, and she was everything. But much more than that she was the embodiment of perfection in human form. There could be nobody else in the known Universe as radiant, as pure, as perfect, as utterly, utterly desirable, as the monochrome angel in his picture. And that was her name, wasn’t it? Angela … an angel.

Her hair, the instant the camera had snatched it from the real world and brought it on this simple sheet of paper into his bedroom, was unbelievableIt was hair so long, so glinting under the sun that he was sure he could see every one of its myriad strands as a sudden breeze of a lost moment had caught it and trapped it for eternity. And he could smell it. The joyous, pure and floral aroma of it. A scent that was as real as the light of today, and as permanent.

So how do you answer the question so who is she, Taylor?

Oh, she’s just this girl in the tent next to ours,” he shrugged, and as the words came out he knew he was reducing her to nothing in the swingeing denial. But what more could he, should he, say?

For she was a whole lot more than just this girl…

Ricky asked her to snap our tent, with us in front of it,” he added, sliding the picture she had taken of two teenage boys grinning at the camera so that it partly covered the enlarged image of her. “So that we had a memory,” he added lamely, “so that we wouldn’t ever forget.”

Forget what, Taylor?”

He squirmed. “Our first holiday away from home.” He shrugged. “That sort of thing’s important,” he added.

More important than the girl?” she asked, and that was the killer question.

Of course not! Nothing was more important than the girl, and nobody. They couldn’t be, not when she was by far the brightest and most important star in the enormity of his personal sky, more alive in the static image in front of him than anyone he had ever known or would ever know…

More than you, mum,” he said, meaninglessly.

He’d forgotten, of course, that his mum hadn’t been born yesterday and he’d probably never known the way her own heart had once beat for the young man of her hopes and dreams… He’d had no idea, he couldn‘t have, how the same kind of passion he felt for the girl in the picture, had been nourished in her by a few years of real love, of touching of kissing, of being together, until the b*****d fates had stolen him from her and there had been nothing left of him but a hastily piled mound in the sodding church yard on a wet day…

But she hadn’t forgotten.

They were in his bedroom and the girl in the picture was already on his bedroom wall where he was pretty sure the morning sun would have a chance of catching her smile. He’d carefully cut some sticky tape and doubled it to make little loops that wouldn’t damage the image but would hold it safe and secure on the wall. He’d been thoughtful. He owed her that much, if he owed her anything.

Come with me, Taylor,” she said quietly, “leave her there for a moment or two, there’s something I want you to see.”

Her skirt swished as she turned, and he knew what it was going to be. But he had to go. There were only the two of them, and when there’s only two in a house there has to be consideration as well.

She took him into her bedroom. He didn’t go in there so often, not nowadays, though he had once, years ago, when they both needed comfort because the graveyard didn’t offer any, and they’d made their weekly pilgrimage tio visit the man called dad that he couldn’t remember. It smelt faintly in there, of mum, of her clothes, of whatever stuff it was she put on herself to make her smell sweeter than life, unaided, wanted her to smell.

She tried to reach up to the top of her wardrobe where she kept a few precious things, but suddenly wasn’t quite tall enough.

There’s my book up there, Taylor, I must have shrunk! Would you do the honours?” she said.

It was easy for him. He was taller and anyway a great deal more flexible. The photograph album wasn’t heavy, either.

She opened it at the very first page and he saw a picture she’d shown him many times before, needing to keep alive the memory of a man he’d already forgotten.

This is my version of your girl,” she said, her voice catching and watery.

The man sitting in a chair at an outdoors table smiled up at him, as monochrome as the heavenly creature on his own wall.

I look at it sometimes,” she said, a little mournfully. “Once, when you were little, I hoped you’d grow up to look like him, so that maybe I had a living memory of the good days. But you didn’t.” She smiled. “You grew up to look like me,” she added, “but a little bit, around the eyes, like him.”

He nodded. He could see himself in her face when he looked at her. He hadn’t noticed before.

Look after your photo of your friend,” she whispered, “memories are so hard to recapture once they’ve gone.”

His friend? Was she his friend? Possibly not in the way she meant.

I don’t know who she is or where she lives,” he murmured, almost to himself, “but I love the picture of her.”

And from the distant look in her eyes he knew his mum understood.

© Peter Rogerson 12.08.19




© 2019 Peter Rogerson


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Added on August 12, 2019
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Tags: monochrome, photograph, mother, discussion, father


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing