Saturday 21 June 2014

'Clock' by Danielle McLaughlin

My aunt’s flat is like the inside of a clock:  small, shining, exact. A place of things impeccably ordered. Silver teaspoons with filigree handles; a pin cushion with a hundred pearl-headed pins; gold-rimmed china cups.
My aunt trails a finger across the bruise on my temple, but she does not ask, not yet. The asking will come later. ‘I could have met you at the station,’ she says, taking my suitcase, ‘I could have helped.’
I sit on her sofa with its row of red velvet cushions. I think I hear a soft whirring, like cogs going into motion. I listen for the tick, the tock, but it is my aunt boiling the kettle to make tea.
When she opens the fridge, I glimpse a plate of raw meat: a swollen, purple ox tongue from the market, a sheep’s heart with its marbling of fat.
Here, in this flat, my aunt makes time for me. We negotiate each other within the safe confines of its walls: me, striding and jarring, she, meticulous and precise. Big hand, little hand.
I am frightened as a wounded bird, wings clipped, spirit broken. In the days to come, my aunt will feed me slivers of heart and tongue. She will wind me until I am once more ready for flight. And on the appointed hour she will watch me burst forth, fly beyond her walls, primed for song.

First published in The Salt Anthology of New Writing 2013

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