The Writer

Jack’s childhood is overshadowed by his father’s presence

Svetlana Smith
Woodworkers of the World Unite!!!

--

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

The skull was kept on the mantlepiece when we were children, staring at us from dark sockets when we went into the book-lined study to say goodnight to Papa. Its rotten teeth had gaping holes and dark roots showing. I always brushed my teeth harder after seeing it, horrified that my own would end up like that.

Papa would swivel away from his writing desk, the evening sunshine streaming in over his shoulder, and pull us into his arms. His jacket smelled of sandalwood aftershave, and the pipes he used to smoke.

‘Night night, Sylvie. Night night, Jack,’ he’d say, his beard tickling our cheeks. ‘Sleep tight, mind old Alphonso doesn’t bite.’

Alphonso stared back silently. As you are now, so once was I.

We weren’t allowed to disturb our father the rest of the time. We crept around the house on tip toes, bare feet padding over old Persian rugs and oak floor boards. We’d lie on our backs in Sylvie’s room, making landscapes from the cracks in the old plaster on the ceiling high above us.

‘That one’s the river where Papa found Alphonso,’ she’d point to the longest crack, meandering its way past the light fitting, across to the coving above the wardrobe, ‘deep in the Amazon rainforest. He had to fight his way…

--

--

Svetlana Smith
Woodworkers of the World Unite!!!

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