The quilt

The quilt

The story of family through the eyes of each generation who add to the patchwork quilt. (short except from the first chapter - never submitted anything before - nervous much!)


Historical fiction


Keynko (United Kingdom)

The long dark corridor of the hospital smells of disinfectant, as they walk hand in hand beneath the lights, G notices one is broken and her gaze falls to the darker patch on the floor. Little J puts his hand in hers and squeezes it tight, warm and re-assuring she knows she should return the squeeze but the effort to do so seems beyond her. Weary to the bone, she struggles to put one foot in front of the other. The corridor ahead widens into a landing at the top of the staircase which leads down to the reception hall and ultimately the outside world. She hesitates, falters in her step. If she leaves the hospital it will all be over. Really all done and finished with, maybe just maybe if she stays inside it will not have happened. She can turn back, go back to that long room and it won’t be true. She can walk in and wave as she has for last few weeks and will be greeted with a wave in return.

But dad holding her other hand pulls her forward and she steps onto the first step. It really is all over, no going back. Christmas eve will never be the same again, the nurses with their capes on inside out to show the red lining are singing in the main hall. Clear voices raising to the chorus of Hark the Herald Angels sing. An old man in a wheelchair joins in from the side lines whilst a young doctor whistles his own version as he makes his way to the lounge with a spring in step, his shift is over.

Every step is painful, hurting her heart as she leaves that long room behind her. Dad is keen to get out, rushing her towards the door, little J is quietly sobbing into his collar. A smartly dressed young man pushes open the door ahead of them letting in a cold blast of winter air, bringing G to her senses she begins to accept the truth. She can’t go back, only onward, one step at a time, if she can just get to the door the they’ll be alright. If she can just get down the front steps they’ll be alright.

The lights along the river shine in their reflection, as the three of them walk hand in hand along the embankment each step talking them further from the past, she finds the strength to squeeze J’s hand back. She smiles down at him through her tears “Shall we have a quilt story when we get home?”

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



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