Sunday 16 June 2019

SAFE GROUND: 'Her Smile Never Fades' by Stephen M

Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.

'Her Smile Never Fades'
by Stephen M

Her name, her face, the colours of her hair, none of them I remember any longer. It’s been such a long time, too long to even consider counting. Time has turned its pages over many seasons and years. But her smile has never faded away, or been forgotten. Whenever I think of my childhood, she’s always there, in my mind.

The farm was big. There were plenty of olive trees, some of which played a part in my favourite climbing game with my cousin. The best part was getting to the top of the olive tree and then simply jumping down. The more bruises, the more the chances of being the winner. How funny that was; but that’s another story.

Each day, after school, I’d run home, drop my bag, grab a slice of home-baked brown bread with olive oil and tomato on it and then run again – out to meet her. I knew she’d wait for me. She always did. I was so excited and happy to see my friend. I’d run all the way through the vineyards, through other people’s farms and their olive trees. Up, down, left and right, the narrow countryside paths, when at last I’d run around the corner of a house with a water well in front of it. There she was, my friend, sitting at the side of the path amongst the flowers and various other plants, smiling at me. Most of the time, I wouldn’t eat the bread and tomato as I’d throw it away. You see, running does not go well with eating at the same time. I’d go and sit next to her and we’d talk about our day and school, and all the things we’d learned. I’d tell how I didn’t listen to my grandma, and she’d say how she’d disobeyed her mum. We’d laugh and talk more.

Whenever thirsty, we’d walk up the narrow path and get some fresh cool water from the well. The metal bucket was small; the rope attached to its handle was very long. The well was deep and there was a technique to get water from the well. I’d always get her to drink first from the bucket. Full face in.

The all of a sudden, a loud voice would come through the trees, calling her to go back home. A quick goodbye till tomorrow and off I was, running back, so happy. I’d always look back and see her smile. I’d wave goodbye, so happy.

Tome passed and the time came when I had to go away and my grandma was very upset about it. You see, she never called me grandson, just son. I left and never got to say goodbye to her and see her smile again, ever.

Thirty years later, I got to visit my cousin and his family. He was still at the same farm where he grew up. Time had stopped. Almost everything was exactly the same as I remembered it. The main topic of discussion was the olive trees and the jumping down game. Everyone listened with amazement, but not my cousin and I.

There was a man at my cousin’s home. He’d just popped in to pay a visit. After the normal introduction, he turned around and shocked me with his next words –

‘My sister has never forgotten you. She always talks about you and smiles she mentions your name; even to this day. We all knew she’d come and meet up with you after school. She thought it was your secret!’


You can follow Safe Ground on Twitter @Safe_Ground.

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