'Scattered Sand' by Pippa Slattery
Pippa Slattery, LISP 2nd Half 2021, Flash Fiction Finalist by 'Scattered Sand'
Her throat fragments, like the slow cracking of glass, as unfamiliar memories bend within shadows. She nuzzles into the comfort of her pillow and wraps the blanket tight, as the book rearranges itself in her hands, heavy-spined.
A shadow shifts through the long-dried ink, hovering for a moment at the place of the lost child. Her eyes move in rhythm to his step, as his wife abandons, loving another. The words paint him, head bent, leaving Ireland’s shores; despair cast over the ship’s stern and sinking beneath the icy surf. His secrets veiled in the diary, now leather-cracked and soiled.
She’d never known when he’d left, or about his son. She wondered where the infant was buried. Imagined his little bones calling to her from his earthen catacomb. Holding out a skeletal hand, too soon turned to dust.
Like her daughter’s.
Tiny lives narrated by the scattering of sand through intervening years.
Footsteps within hearts.
He carved out a new life, in the stranger’s land that she later left, to return to the home he once deserted. To make restitution. One hundred years, to the day, between their journeys.
A homecoming. Only to lose her own child. Divorce. Love another.
She sees their two lives: replicating, interconnecting. A dead man’s heart now still. Hers, suspended in a white box, entombed.
‘Help me,’ she pleads, as her grandfather reaches out from the page and a tiny cry reverberates on the night air.
‘Whose there?’ she calls. ‘Please – is there anybody there?’