The Many Failures of Francesca Jones

Cheska struggles to cope at a family christening

Svetlana Smith
The Crystal Palace

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Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

Luckily, I was sitting down when Aunt Jane wandered over to me, pushing her way through the crowds of relatives chattering merrily in the airy, sun-filled hall, and plumping herself down on the flower swagged seat next to me.

‘And when is it your turn?’ She stares at my stomach, its resolute flatness is a slap in the face for my family, who breed so freely that it would shame your average rabbit.

‘We’re not sure we want kids yet.’ I always say this. It’s easier.

‘Well, you don’t have long now dear, you’re not getting any younger.’

There are so many things I could say to this. I could thank her for pointing out to me that I’m getting on a bit, because I might not have noticed the new wrinkles if she didn’t point it out. I could tell her to mind her own business. I could ask her if she’s written her will yet, because she doesn’t have much time left. I don’t of course, because I mustn’t make a scene. And because I like her, though at times like this I’ve no idea why.

Over by the garden doors, Naomi is haloed in light, holding Wilbur — who is draped in his great-grandmother’s lace christening gown, the one that Naomi and I used to admire as girls, dressing our dolls up in it and…

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Svetlana Smith
The Crystal Palace

Editor of The Crystal Palace. Writes short stories, mostly about relationships — between friends, siblings, lovers — but with the odd folk horror for fun.