Saturday, 27 June 2015

"Perfect Word" by Mandy Huggins

Lydia looked out of the hall window at the snow-muffled street, and remembered her father's word for the glitter frosting that danced on lamp-lit snow: crackledust. She had never been sure about it. Snow didn’t crackle, it crunched.
She stood in the hallway, surrounded by the neatly packed boxes and bin liners containing her father's clothes. She had performed the task of sorting through them accompanied by a bottle of wine, packing systematically and methodically, without pause for the thoughts and memories that would have made it impossible. Jumpers, trousers, belts, shirts, ties; all neatly folded and coiled. 
At the bottom of the banister was his green cardigan, the one with a hole in the sleeve and the leather buttons. She was so used to seeing it there that she had overlooked it earlier. Her father had given that a made-up name too: swabbler. The cardigan that he wore for relaxing. For swabbling. Lydia thought it was a lovely word. She wrapped it around her shoulders and opened the front door to greet the silent early-hours world.
The snow was falling faster now. She threw her head back to catch the soft, fat flakes, and they melted like communion wafers on her tongue. She had refused to take communion after the funeral, it would have been a sham, even though it was what her father had believed in. The body of Christ couldn’t save her, only the blood of Christ; the wine that she drank to lessen the unexpected weight of her grief. 
As she stood in the garden she realised that although this house would always be her childhood home, soon it would belong to someone else, and she would never visit it again. She would never call her parents’ number and hear her father say ‘wotcher’ with an upper-class accent, or eat a whole plate of her mother’s Yorkshire puddings filled with her father’s onion gravy. She would never be late for her train because of the dining room clock that was permanently twelve minutes slow.
And now she was going to have to find a new normal, a normal without the certainties of her childhood. And maybe now, at the age of 51, it was time to become a grownup and think of her own word for lamp-lit snow; to come up with something more apt. 
It glittered under the streetlights, a million pinprick diamonds, a dusting of crystal kali waiting to pop and fizzle in her mouth. She wrapped her father’s cardigan tightly around herself, and found that she was brushing away silent tears with the rough wool sleeves. 
It was obvious to her now that crackledust was the perfect word for snow-frosting. She didn’t need to think of a new one. 
Not everything had to change.

First published on


  1. Clearing your childhood home. Been there, done that.... Excellent! x

  2. Beautiful and touching story x

  3. I have a feeling I've read this before and if anything, it was even better on the second reading. I love it. As Karen says, beautiful and touching. x


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