Meet Margery

Mother, I’m so sorry it’s been such a long time since I visited you. The thing is Amy is becoming such a handful, and it’s really only been since her ninth birthday, last month. You know, the other day, she broke the vase you bought me for my 28th birthday. Do you remember? The blue one with red spots? Of course she blamed it on poor little Sam. He’s nearly five now. He tried to bite Amy, you see, and then Amy, such a sly girl started to blame Sam for everything. It’s really quite chaotic at home, Mother. You’d put them both back in their places, I know you would. They miss their Granny. It’s really only me, Amy and Sam. David’s so busy with his allotment. He’s practically married to his vegetables! He misses you so dearly. You know, he considered you more of a mother than his own. Oh, I wish you’d come home, Mother. How you would gasp at my children’s behaviour! And David would get such an earful. I do feel for him though. He’s not dealing with his grief very well. If only you could come home for just one day and…no, I’m sorry. I came here to be with you and listen to the band. I brought your favourite: black pepper crackers and cream cheese, a flask of Earl Grey tea and some tangerines. How’s your bad back, Mother?
“Excuse me, may I sit here?” a thin, old man asks, leaning delicately on his wooden stick.
“Oh, of course.”
He sits down in Mother’s spot and I stand up to leave. Mother needs somewhere to sit and I can’t very well tell the old man to hike over the road to the other bench.
“Don’t leave on my account. It would be nice to have some company,” he says.
“You’ve already got some great company sitting right next to you. Meet Margery, my mother.”

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The Right Shoe

Red was his favourite colour. Oh, how he loved to kick a football, and preferably a red one. His little foot would push the ball forward and we would clap so hard and smile so wide. His blue eyes would light up like the summer sky he was underneath. It really was beautiful that day. Miles was so excited in his red and black football cap and his red striped shorts.

But Mark didn’t pack Miles’ trainers. And he forgot the suncream. Because, really, he was forced to go out that day. He wanted to stay at home and work until midnight, just like the night before, and the night before that. I insisted he come, just this once. He agreed, as long as we wouldn’t stay for too long. Oh, why couldn’t he remember the suncream? Why did I force us to go out as a family? The sun sizzled above us. Miles kept shouting, “The football, the football! Play Daddy, play Mummy!”

I should never have used that condescending tone. Mark hates it. But I already knew that. He threw words up like tennis balls, and I batted them back. He just wouldn’t listen. And I kept getting more stubborn.

It was only when Mark said, “Let’s just get this over with, for Miles’ sake,” when I realised it was far too quiet. Miles was gone.

All that remained was his small right shoe.