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Between the Lines
Irene, a care assistant, aims to surprise Matty with a birthday visit from the child she gave up for adoption as a young woman. But, when lockdown shuts the care-home doors, all plans are put on hold.
But Matty won’t be beaten. At least not until the Black Lives Matter protests burst her bubble and buried secrets come to light.
Will she survive to a hundred? Will she see her ‘maid’ again? Will she meet her long-lost child?
Rooted in injustice, balanced with humour, this is a bittersweet story of reckoning with hidden histories in cloistered times.
I wasn’t sure how I’d pair this post with this week’s flash fiction prompt: shots fired. Although there are dark episodes and a couple of deaths in the novel, no shots are fired as far as I can recall. (Not that it isn’t chiselled onto my brain from the number of times I’ve had to read it recently!) Then I heard on the news this morning about a spring Covid vaccination booster being released for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, so I’ll soon be queueing up for mine. That’s a kind of shot, isn’t it?
Clem prepares the needle. The man removes his jacket and thrusts a Union Jack tattoo in her face. Bile sours her throat like love betrayed. Yet, silently, she chuckles. “You realise it’s upside down?”
“People assume it’s symmetrical.” She points a blue-gloved finger along the left-to-right diagonal stripe. “The white should be thicker at the top.”
The syringe approaches his frescoed skin. “Sharp scratch.” Quick in and out, the instructor taught her. Dithering hurts more. She jiggles the needle slowly into the muscle and slaps a flesh-coloured plaster over the puncture wound. A dark-brown dot enhancing the flag.