LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction, 'Her Mother’s Likeness' by Lisa Fransson
'Her Mother’s Likeness'
Flames licked the likeness of Lucy’s mother, bent the canvas backwards in a dance of kisses and caresses. Threads the colour of skin, red lips and blue eyes snapped and curled, fizzed into ash. Crumbled, glowed orange, hot and burning. Lucy watched, chin in hand. Sat naked with the needle still in her hand, the golden-brown thread for her mother’s hair still trailed along her thigh, snaked around the scars – once a burn, twice a burn, thrice a burn, and those endless pricks from her mother’s needle. She touched them now, a white-hot canvas patterned with stars of hurt. Prodded them gently with the point. Once for borrowing mummy’s lipstick, twice for the teacher calling home to ask about the bruises, thrice so that she’d think twice about doing it again, and endless stabs for the nightmares that woke her crying in the night.
“You wore me out so,” spoke her mother’s charcoal tongue from the fireplace. “Why did you have to be such a difficult child?”
But during these long dark winter nights Lucy had already spent too much time with her mother, watching her become stitch by stitch – the lemon-sucking lips, the dead-fish-eyes, the cheeks of smooth stone. She touched them now, with the poker, stirring the embers into a wisp of smoke and a whirl of sparks. Another log of seasoned birch, wood like fibrous white flesh and pockets of air combusting.
“Why did you stitch me into being only to punish me?” asked her mother in a flurry of bone-grey ash.
“That,” said Lucy, “I wish I knew.”