Her brothers were in full fight mode when Moira got back in from work, all over the halfpennyworth of broken biscuits they had been allowed to ask for at the shop rather than spend any ration coupons. “Billy, Ray, Dad’ll have his strap out if you two don’t stop that,” she shouted, though she knew it hung on the hook as threat rather than promise. She wanted them up to bed out of the way by the time she and Mam started the final alterations for her wedding costume. That pale blue silk had been too hard to come by for mucky fingerprints to come anywhere near.

They reckon it was 70 years ago since she left to marry her handsome soldier. “Of course it can’t be,” she says to his photo in the silver frame on the dresser. “It’s like it was yesterday.”

If only she could be back living in that busy family home, warming herself by the fire or catching up on the gossip with Hilda while they wait for Mam’s steak and kidney pudding to finish steaming on the stove. They say she can’t, but if it was just yesterday, why not?

She is told she has lived in many places since that house. She doesn’t remember anything about that, only that she now wakes up in this flat – no fire, nor stove, just some new-fangled digital boiler and something called an induction hob. No one else seems to live here, and there’s no view due to the high hedge just beyond the window. She does have daughters who visit sometimes and one just phoned her, but she wonders what to do to pass the rest of the day until her evening carer pops in. Since her legs packed up, she can barely get to the door, never mind the shops.

Moira sits in her chair, discards her thin newspaper, and stares at the privet hedge, clueless as to how she is going to fill the interminable day ahead of her before bedtime. Can a day last 70 years? – of course it can.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei (@margarida-brei)
3 months ago

Susan you have really captured the loneliness of old age.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago

It’s really hard to grow old alone. Very sad and boring. You captured it perfectly.

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills)
3 months ago

I love your story, Susan! Moira is never alone as long as she has her memories. I enjoyed the step back in time, during the hard time of the war but with love triumphing…

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
3 months ago

This story is beautifully written, Susan. The comparison of seventy years seeming like a day (for her younger years) and one day feeling like seventy years (now, as a lonely old woman) is quite striking and stays with the reader for a long time. I always look forward to your latest story, and I’m never disappointed.

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Allan Neil
Allan Neil (@allan-neil)
3 months ago

Very well written, Susan.
Lovely, sad, wistful; what a touching tale. I can associate very well with Moira, as it happens (saying no more) and you struck a telling chord in my heartstrings.

Sandra OReilly
Sandra OReilly (@sandra-oreilly)
3 months ago

Hi Susan this is really well done and reminds me of my mother who also lived in a similar flat with too much time on her hands. Such a sad, lonely existence at the end of such a busy life. This really resonates with me.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
3 months ago

Time and memory are such strange things, seemingly plastic and moveable. You caught their enigmatic nature very well in this story, Susan.

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