They had a routine, and that was something to hold onto. Every morning began the same. She couldn’t remember exactly what the night and the day had been like before they made this child, but she knew they had been less full, less anchored.
This morning when she came in I knew it was going to be one of those days. She had a look in her eyes and under her skin that made the coldest fear suck at my insides. It wasn’t the first time, but I wasn’t used to it yet and I couldn’t look at it with any kind of calmness. That would come. Thank god that would come.
They sit around the table, ten women, their years stretched between fifty-five and eighty-three. They take a mug of tea and a shortbread biscuit between their stiff fingers and they wait a while.
My city is one of the greenest in the country, known as ‘the outdoor city’ its pockets of green spaces and its close proximity to open countryside give it its semi rural feel. Sheffield straddles post industrialism with nature easily, perhaps because it has always mixed the two. Factories back onto the river. Parks and gardens over-look the busy town centre. And suburban streets are lined with trees, providing the name ‘the leafy suburbs’. But these streets have had a fight on their hands lately. One which they seem to be losing.
Deep, deep below the ground among the hills. Up through the haunted Winnat’s Pass and down, follow the land like a spill of wine. The green meets the blue as the hills touch the sky and sheep roam wherever they like. Here is the mouth of a cave. Enter the stone and step down into the earth and feel the linger of Romans who discovered this opening 2000 years before.
The building feels like a warehouse, though I know it was once used as workshops for metal workers. The stairways hold the memories of the mesters who once crafted their material, each step I make as I ascend tinny with the clank of the metal frame and steps. I like to think we keep their spirits alive by carrying on the tradition of art in this space.
Folded Word is proud to nominate the following work, published in 2016, for the 2017 Pushcart Prize:
He parked his car in the multi-story, got out and breathed the cold air in. The rain swayed in through the upper open plan area like a slow swarm of midges. The sky was the colour of a 4B pencil.