Double-edged sword


“Father would want us to carry on, Philomena. You know he would.” I rolled up my sleeves as I spoke, adjusting the black armband. We had no money for full mourning outfits.

“You are a cold-hearted fish – shame on you!”

“The field will not plough itself. Father and Jem are – gone. We have to survive on our own now.”

We faced each other, hands on hips, both insistent that we were right. Stubborn as Father, I thought.

Major whickered impatiently in the background. He wanted to work too, and the brassware and buckles jangled as he strained his harness against the weight of the plough. I pictured Jem rubbing Major’s nose softly on the day he and Father left. It had been a lifetime ago, or so it seemed.

“Philomena! Louisa! Please read this, for I cannot!”

We both turned, our impasse forgotten. Mother was running across the field, hair falling loose from its pins, skirts held high above the mud. She waved a piece of paper, shining white against the grey sky.



It’s been a while, but I thought I should pop my head around the door of Alistair’s Sunday Photo Fiction and get creative in a non-poetic way. The story came to my head quite quickly, once again inspired by family history talk last weekend. There were lots of agricultural labourers in my family background before the industrial revolution took hold. Yes, there was a lucky incident of being the victim of double-booking on third class passage on the Titanic.  A very lucky escape indeed…

Do take part if you have time, or just pop over and read the other entries!


The power was cut off yesterday, finally. It’s funny how even when the TV has been switched off, there’s still so much background noise, so much electricity in the atmosphere. Motors running, fans whirring, clocks humming. Even the silent radio transmits a low level buzz. If you press your ear to the speaker, you can hear it.

Now, all of that is gone.

I stand completely still. I can hear the rasp of cotton against wool as my chest rises and falls, rises and falls. The house is settling into itself, relaxing, losing tension, revisiting its old rhythms. It is sighing with relief. Old houses weren’t built for the modern age, for technology, for energy – zap, zap, zap. Their walls weren’t built with care, only to be gouged out to accommodate cables, wires and pipes. Their kitchens weren’t planned to hold washing machines, fridges and freezers. These houses were homes for people, for laughter, for pain, for joy, for fear, for living. For shelter.

Thwock. Thwock. Thwock. I hear the steady percussion of water dripping on tile. As expected, the freezer is leaking its contents onto the pantry floor. I picture the pool encroaching, seeping, growing. No matter. I will mop it up. Peace will reign. Continue reading “Family”