I think of you every morning as I shake her Coco Pops into the bowl. Never Frosties or Rice Krispies. Only Coco Pops will do. Clipping tokens from the box, your hand on mine guiding the kitchen scissors, following the dotted line. Just the two of us rubbing along like blades.
Each day I’d collect post from the doormat; willing our theme park tickets to arrive, sifting through letters for the one addressed to me. But it didn’t come. Bad news came instead – the familiar blue and white post mark making my stomach big dipper flip-flop and you, always the smiler saying, ‘It’ll be fine, love. It’ll all be fine.’ Another letter confirmed another appointment, another set of tests, another operation. The nurses tried to keep me entertained in the playroom, because where do children go when their mum is stuck in a hospital bed and everyone’s goodwill has run out and your dad has run off?
As she drinks the chocolatey milk, a stray Coco Pop sticks to her lip and we laugh at her wicked witch’s wart. ‘Can we get the scissors, now?’ She asks.
‘I’ll start you off,’ I say as I stab the points into the card, ‘I remember collecting tokens for weeks, now you just cut and go.’ We rub along like blades, the two of us, history repeating itself – but not.
There’s Rita, nestled in the corner of the park. Mum’s namesake – the queen of speed. Rainbow arcs of iron rise above the trees, weaving in and out of the landscape like a skeletal Loch Ness Monster. Sitting together, wedged in tight – no chance of second-thoughts, I glance at the empty seat next to mine and place my hand there, feeling its warmth. I imagine your reassuring smile convincing me, ‘It’ll be fine, love. It’ll all be fine.’
Debbie Taggio lives in Worcester, West Midlands. She has published and won awards for her flash fiction across the UK and the States. She is currently working on an anthology of linked flash fiction stories, you can find here at debbietaggio.wordpress.com.