I imagined him to be tall and dark, my twin brother, when she told me; similar personality, more confidence. Ma told me she’d bled heavily when she carried me, thought she’d lost me, ‘till her stomach kept growing after the doctor ordered bedrest. Didn’t have scans in them days, she said. Aunt Connie had been drafted in to help. Then I arrived after what I’m told is the longest and worst labour, like it was somehow my fault, that I’d been difficult or might have been responsible for his loss. She looked startled in most of my fading baby photos — the ones in tartan albums, labeled in biro —like she’d birthed an alien. There was an awkward distance between us that looked nothing like Madonna and Child. Ma thought she’d told me once, but with most of her stories, I’d heard this one on numerous occasions by the time I carried my own bairns.
The constant, gnawing gap in my life, the longing, the loneliness, it had always been there. I found his face in a few male friends over the years, the ones that were silly and funny and kind. But, I lost him as time unfurled, wondered whether he might have been a doctor, like my Pops, or a vet, maybe a teacher. Sometimes I would reach out a hand to see if he caught it, or hear his voice in a stranger’s. I’d look at men my age and wonder what it would feel like to have him here in the flesh, if we’d fight the way siblings do. I imagined he’d be a better version of me. We look for better all the time. They tell us in school to do better, be better. Better… (continue reading at Spillwords Press).
I am eight years old and this is the year I learn to float. It is the year I learn to speak Spanish, although I firmly believe floating will be more useful, especially if I want to become a magician’s assistant. You don’t need language qualifications.
“Heather?” Mum yells up the stairs. “Come down and set the table.” I wonder if I can do this by floating, but I will need more practise. She doesn’t understand magic. Not many people do. I set the table and float back upstairs, but I have to stop half way as I lose my focus.
At the dinner table, later in the evening, the conversation revolves around government policies, shopping lists and Harry’s exams. “I can levitate,” I say. Silence falls across the room. Grandpa is snoring in the corner in his rocking chair. Dad gives me an eat-your-food look and that’s all I say for the rest of the evening. At breakfast tomorrow, I will try Spanish. It will be more acceptable.
I’m thrilled to share the news that my story was longlisted, then shortlisted, and was this week placed as a runner up, along with 3 other wonderful stories. You can read my story at Lunate.co.uk
Entries were judged by the fantastic founding editor of EllipsisZine, Steve Campbell. You can read a blog interview with him here. If you haven’t come across this literary magazine, I would highly recommend a read. You might also find a few of my stories in there.
I hope you enjoy the stories. I’m off to celebrate the news!