By Julia Ruth Smith
The fenland is as bleak as I remember it. Not even an Easter sun can pull it out of its grim flatness. My mother is driving cautiously, doing that deep breathing she does to keep calm, tapping the wheel just enough to keep me on edge, tired as I am after the flight. We wind through monotonous ploughed fields. The children are bright in their random chatter, ‘Look Mamma! Tatties!’
I smile despite myself, thinking of fluffy, mashed potatoes; my father carving the Sunday roast. We pull up at a typically featureless building; the only car in the gravel yard.
‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ she asks. I nod and bury myself in my coat. My mouth feels claggy. I’m led into a room where he is laid out in his weekend best. He looks different, pale, waxy; faint traces of earth under his fingernails.
Julia Ruth Smith is a mother, teacher and writer. She lives by the sea in Italy. Her writing has recently appeared in Versification, Virtual Zine, Sledgehammer and Full House Lit. You can find her on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1 or at the beach.