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Thursday, 23 June 2011


She stares at the faces, smiles and clutches the yarn between her fingers. The needle is an old friend, a tool, a relic from a past life flowing with children and prams and homemade blankets. She runs a finger down the thread and on to her creation, the square is still soft in her grasp but yellowing stains crawl up its surface. It is old.

"I can still do it. I haven't done it for years but I can still do it." The thread is wrapped around the needle and the hook grabs at the blanket. The yarn slips from the metal. She smiles, "see, I can do it."

There are photographs everywhere: children, children's children, siblings, spouses. They decorate the room in mismatched frames and those that don't sit in a bag smelling of age and happiness. We look through them, thirsty for knowledge of family. I see my parents smiling, it was the day they met but already they look together. My dad tries to hide pictures of himself, silly hair and protruding ears. I see a woman and a child, my dad calls her a witch and the child Charlene. Mum and I puzzle over whether the long-haired young man in the photo is Dad or Uncle Stephen, even he has trouble. His sister sits to my side and laughs as she finds my dad's face peeking out from behind her, three brothers and another sister. I look at his siblings, my family, and try to guess which face belongs to which. She smiles at us, "Those are my memories."

She sounds far away, looks to the window and frowns. There is a cactus in the way but she sees through it past the curtain and past the glass, past the cars outside. I wonder what she's looking at.

"I have a photo of us," her hand waves towards my grandfather, "over there on the wall." The photo is enlarged and filled with vibrant colour. It sits in a gold frame. She smiles.

"That was at Micky's wedding." She looks smug.

"You're not wrong," my dad smiles and then a laugh creeps into his voice, "who's Micky?"

She stares at him, looks at us and stares again. She stays silent. He tests her again and I sink back into my seat. His question changes, "who am I?"

More silence. She blinks and wetness creeps under her eyes, not enough to spill over but the sheen remains. She's trying but it doesn't come. She clutches at her cardigan, blanket discarded.

"He's Micky. That's Micky." Grandad points. Dad laughs. You have to laugh... He can do nothing else.

"I know!" She's louder than before and she repeats the words, "I know it's Micky."

She stares at the faces and the photographs and I stare back as my family talk around me. She looks at the walls and the floor and the window.

She doesn't know their names.

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