Kidnapped by Lesley James – Selected Flash Fiction

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LJ has recent work in Llandeilo Literary Festival, The Broken Spine and Love The Words Anthology for International Dylan Thomas Day.

They came in the middle of the night and swept back the covers of the bed to wrap up the child and carry her away. 

Her father was there at first, but not later, and through her sleep she said where am I going and he said it’s because your mother is a bad woman.

The next several days were blank. It took her a while to calculate where she was. But there was a back yard to play in which triggered aliveness, and a toy Shell garage with a James Bond car and trucks and a multi-storey (two levels!) car park and that was nice but she didn’t like the food. White bread? Tasted like elastic. White bread soaked in milky tea? She watched Wncwl Lias eat that and it dribbled down his slack face. Duw, on’d’w hi’n dawel! There was no English here. There were no books to read so she drew instead. She didn’t know any of the games her cousin played. Soup? More successful. And a pleasant routine evolved. Aunty Ceridwen’s house had a funny smell, there was no going to school, but it was better than the pub.

Some days later there was a kerfuffle at the door, shouting and loud voices, some screeching, attempts to block the way, then her mother burst in, dressed in her black Astrakhan funeral coat with a mink collar. Swept in, like Elizabeth Taylor, weeping. Thank God I found you. C’mon you’re coming with me. 

But I like the toys! Dragged out in her new boyish pyjamas in the cold to Uncle Harry’s car.

And for a time she was safe with Aunty Dace and Uncle Ron and Prince the dog because that’s where they left her when the screaming had died down a little. Then her mother’s constant, constant, wailing and crying went off in the car to… where?

Dace and Don and Prince the dog was her idea of heaven so she didn’t mind that her mother had left her there. It was just like a holiday even though she was worried about her mother and father and no-one would tell her what was going to happen next. But it was lovely with Dace and Don. There was no noise. No cigarette smoke. No lavish arguments into the early hours, and no police being called. The volume of life here was altogether more preferable.

Eventually, Uncle Harry was sent to drive her home in his car, but by now she really didn’t want to go. She protested at being uprooted, and everyone acted like nothing had happened, like she was making an unnecessary fuss. At home, keys turned in locks in her bedroom door. 

No-one spoke of it again.

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