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by Frances Gapper

What’s left of Eva’s hair stands upright from her scalp and in her hospital gown she resembles Queen Elizabeth the First. She tells the doctor doing his rounds I could’ve been like you dear, a medical person. But I had to leave school when I was 13. I was in domestic service, then I cleaned people’s houses. Guess how old I am?

It’s the hospital social worker’s job to move patients on and she’s mostly hardened to it but perched on a chair arm by Eva’s bed she cries. I don’t want you to have to go back on the streets. Eva says it’s all right dear, I’ve diagnosed my condition. Won’t be long now.

In the Wild Wood, Frances Gapper’s third collection of flashes and longer stories, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama. Her other collections are The Tiny Key and Absent Kisses.