Did you see the lad who lost his job then his flat and started sleeping under Mason’s Bridge, nice bloke they said, people would stop by, pass a word or two, leave a coin; then a lass crept into the other corner, purple eyes low, downturned corners of a split lip, scared of the shadows and the light – he gave her his only blanket one night to stop the chattering of her teeth; within weeks they’d met in the middle sharing that same blanket and, not being able to fall any further, they fell in love – then the passers-by greeted them both, leaving two coins, while some, declaring they felt the same but were following the Christian route, a sparkler on the finger and a blessing in a church, averted their eyes and stopped stopping at all, and how the passers-by wondered where they were one day and the hospital couldn’t stop them taking their baby girl ‘home’ and, for a while, the only one who stopped was a social worker to check, but the whispering worries echoed with every shuffle and step that went by, but the social worker declared the baby was looked after ‘better than most’ and their lives carried on and the people thawed and the coins they left became three, until one February night they snuggled in close, their little girl at the centre of a cave made to care and when the social worker came by, her shift having started at nine, she found them frozen stiff, but the little girl had survived and went on to live under a roof with more love in her heart than most – did you see? That little girl was me.
Author: Originally from England, Claire Schön lives in Austria and escapes back to her mother tongue through her writing. She has stories published with Funny Pearls, Fudoki Magazine, Blinkpot, Grindstone Literary and Reflex Fiction. She won Retreat West’s Pitch competition in 2022 for the novel she’s currently writing. Claire tweets occasionally @SchonClaire.
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