Flash Fiction: The Trace by Rebecca Monks
A short story from the Edinburgh-based writer
Her pencil snapped under the pressure. The clean lines she had carefully mapped across the page were now coated in the dust which spilled across the portrait, blurring her likeness. She cursed, startling her carer.
'Come on Lizzy, there's no need for that,’ the nurse chirped. 'I'll get you another shall I? I think we've got some proper pencils around here somewhere.'
Elizabeth blew on the page, scattering the powder beyond the outline of the sketch.
'I've used lead all my life.’
She sharpened the blunted tip with a knife and returned to work.
Today had been a good day. She had remembered her daughter's name, her face and her touch as she held her hand. She remembered not to enquire about her one-time husband, but to ask if her grandchildren were doing well. The familiarity healed and ached at once.
Though the fear of forgetting again clung to her, Elizabeth was pleased her daughter had visited. She had obeyed her wishes. By the time Anna left, Elizabeth's photographs were all gone and no mirror remained. Only her sketchbook was left behind, along with a promise that Anna would return tomorrow.
Elizabeth sighed and began to sketch herself as she lived in her memory. She wore her hair long in an iron grey rebellion against old age. It draped over her chest, touching the top of the c-section scar that revealed her biggest struggle. It stood at odds with the scar from her last battle with him, which marked her left arm defiantly. Old age had claimed her breasts, and her stomach was now swollen. She smiled as she drew, pleased that she could recall the cruel passing of time, at least for today.
She left the eyes colourless, but as she closed her own in contentment, the green of the iris shone bright in her mind.
Rebecca Monks is a writer based in Edinburgh. She tweets at @Rebecca_Monks.