Saturday, 26 June 2021

Debut Flash: 'They swarm at 46 degrees' by Nicola Godlieb

I’d always swung high, enough above the roof to see a hundred more just like ours. That hottest day the air had sprung in glossy split spheres, perfect-round, tapping the path in pops light as bubble wrap. Globs bright as cherries, landing face, arms, lap.  My chain-print palms, my tight child throat iced in a glacial scream, keep swinging, higher. Just, don't stop. At the top of the arc I’d watched people run indoors, their half collected washing dropped, a shirt, its arms aghast on the lawn in seeping white. D’Agostino's whippy van parked askew and drumming red. And through a bedroom window, the neighbours, pink, bumping at each other, rapid as wasps against glass. Just go higher, to and fro. Crawlers now inside the cry of my silent wide gob. And then the earth — it pitched, switched with sky and sudden my teeth all piled. Four stitches in my lip and the swing, bent, out front for the tip. Managed a thank-you, such manners, and no anaesthetic mind. The doctor mopping sweat from his eyes, winked at my Mum. Told us it was the hottest day for decades, that ladybirds only swarm to mate when it’s 46 degrees. And standing up the lime vinyl seat peeled high and wet from my legs like a disgrace.

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