asleep in the cot and something lurches inside her, making her gasp. Rooted to the floor she takes a deep breath. One of his arms is arched over his head. His puckered lips are parted. She can smell his breath, sweet and milky. He is blonde, like her boy would have been. She feels herself slipping, falling into figments off the page.
‘Hello, Jack,’ she whispers. Jennifer was right - this is just what she needs. She eases the scissors from her pocket.
‘I’ve just got to take a bit. Stay still.’ And as she lowers the blades to the baby’s head, she is that girl in the pet shop all over again. She lifts a section of hair and cuts a tiny lock from the layers beneath. It feels as fine as silk cotton. Gripping the hair between two fingers, she brushes it against her cheek, over and over. Then she crouches on the floor, opens the scrapbook and lays the lock on the page. She tapes one end of the curl, leaving some hair free, and she strokes it.
‘Perfect.’ The baby stirs. He grizzles. She reaches in and strokes his head. His eyelids flutter and he whines once more, his face screwing into tiny creases and his lips pursing.
‘You need the love of a mummy, don’t you, darling?’ And Linda lifts him from the cot, his body flopping in her arms. She kisses him gently. She inhales his warm smell. With his body tight to hers, she lulls him from side to side, and just when she starts to lose herself, she closes her eyes to let the feeling take her. The baby still whimpers in his sleep and as he senses her against him, he searches like a blind puppy for the teat.
‘There, there Jack. Wait a moment. Is that what you want?’ She hears the front door close. ‘Linda, it’s only me. I’ve forgotten my mobile. Linda?’ But Linda doesn’t move; she doesn’t even flinch, and when Jennifer reaches the doorway, she smiles at her - the baby at her breast, the open scrapbook at her feet.
SARAH-JANE PAGE was a runner-up in a Writespace Competition (2008) and won first prize in a letter-writing competition for Red magazine (2008). She teaches English and Spanish, and spends anything from four hours to four days per week writing, depending on commitments. She writes at an oak desk overlooking fields and sky, and is currently completing her first novel Beyond Blood. Dreams of someday having a novel on the A-Level Literature syllabus keep the 37-year-old motivated. She has a recurring dream of being a high-board diving champion.
Bling Thing Fay Dickinson
Man, him went up the mountain and when he comes down his face is all shining like, but he don’t know it ‘cos he ain’t got no mirror or nothing. Man, he’s angry big-time like ‘cos he’s got this message, see, and he gotta pass it on. It don’t apply to me like ‘cos I ain’t into all that bling, but some of the guys, by which I means boy-guys and girl-guys ‘cos I knows I gotta be pc now, they like worship the bling. I gotta say the golden bull is one wicked piece, but I ain’t never gonna want one of those. Not that I got the spondulicks, if you know what I’m saying, man. I was gonna shout out that I heard of ‘Pop Idol,’ but I ain’t never heard of ‘False Idol,’ but I know when it’s best to keep ma mouth shut. I ain’t no fool, man. You don’t mess with that Moses guy.
FAY DICKINSON, 49, has previously been published in The Map of Me anthology and The Graduate (Lancaster University Publication), and several of her one-liners have been broadcast on BBC Radio. She aims to spend ten hours writing a week – usually achieving between five and seven – and finds writing exercises, memories and nature help inspire her. She works as a part-time scheduler, aspires to someday clear her eight mountains of paperwork and sometimes pretends to be Sherlock Holmes.