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Elsie

Page 3

Distant voices caught her attention. She slowly climbed back to her feet and leant against a nearby elm, its bark flaky under hand. She paused, carefully eyeing the bare, twisted tree. Had it forgotten what it was? Its strength of yesteryear? Even the birds seem to skirt around it. A stray branch tapped her arm. She looked down at her wedding ring and smiled, picturing the face she knew better than her own.

A tall man with creamy, freckled skin, Roger had brushed her hand at a dinner party and, in his embarrassment, proceeded to tip his ginger ale onto the cat’s head. The hostess was furious but Elsie had hidden behind a curtain to stifle the laughter rising in her belly. Roger blushed and stammered apologies before sitting glumly in the corner, hunched over gangly legs, a full head of chestnut hair displayed to the room as he stared at his shoes. Elsie loved him immediately, intensely, the affection striking her often, especially lately, as her escape loomed closer. Today it struck her right under the left rib. She could feel the pang when she imagined his face, how happy he would be when she burst through the front door.

The pang returned now as she picked up the pace. Limbs swinging, she shuffled onwards, glancing back, trying to focus on the off-white asylum. Move, please, Elsie begged her legs. Damn old things. She seemed to say ‘damn’ a lot more these days. That’s what being a grandmother does to you: hems your expletives from ‘fuck’ to ‘damn’ so as not to startle youngsters and earn the disapproval of protective mothers. Overprotective, she thought. These mothers, the ones she herself had loved and played with and taken to the ocean. The ones she’d reared and nursed and cared for so that one day, they could catch you making an error at the checkout or having an ‘accident’ while asleep in an armchair. Then suddenly, they would ship you off to a new home, like an old dog when the new landlord refuses incontinent pets.

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