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by Steven John

I shuffle the times I visit, never the same day of the week. If he found out about you, that would be the end. He thinks he was the first and only. Cock of the roost. I put the usual things in a bag. Something to wipe my nose, a sandwich, flask of tea. Buy a cheap toy on the way. You show me your current favourite, the Winnie-the-Pooh on a stick. I take a tissue from the packet and wipe the dirt off your kitten’s face. It sits on its tail so still and demure. You love it when I tell you what you were like as a baby, the little parts of you I remember. Your feet popping up like blisters on my fat belly. I had freckles on my tits bigger than your fingernails. Caterpillar fingers arching over my nipples. In your cot your feet kicked at the dangling moon mobile, your toes like mother of pearl beads.

“What are you going to call the little dot?” the midwife had asked.

I’d looked at her badge. “Lucy,” I said, “after you.”

The midwife had kissed us both and gave me the tightest hug. When she rocked you she sang Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

“Weird lullaby. I’ve never heard it before,” I said to her.

“You’ve never lived girl,” she said.

***

You ask when you can have a little brother or sister. Hate to tell you, Lucy, it’s just going to be you and me. I have pills against that eventuality, not that he must ever know. If I don’t get a bun in the oven soon it’ll be curtains, I can see it in his face. I’m not fussed.

Whenever I visit you I say hello to a man b. 1944 d. 2016. His name is Albert. He lives close to you. His headstone says “Onwards and Upwards”. So funny. I pretend he’s your grandpa. Your stone pillow just says “Lucy” with your b. day, and under that “In the Sky with Diamonds”. I wouldn’t let them carve the d. day. I cry when I leave you. I just want to slide down beside you, under the cellophane flowers.


Steven John lives in the Cotswolds, UK, where he writes short stories and poetry. He’s had work published in pamphlets and online magazines including Riggwelter, Bangor Literary Review, Fictive Dream, Cabinet of Heed and formercactus. He has won Bath Ad Hoc Fiction a record six times and was highly commended in the 2018 To Hull and Back competition. Steve has read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Stroud Short Stories, Flasher’s Club and The Writer’s Room on Corinium Radio.

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