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Cinnamon Rolls a short story by Louisa Bello

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2012 creative writing

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Cinnamon Rolls a short story by Louisa Bello

The moon had an odd paleness about it tonight. The Parks police were long gone now, at home with their wives and steaming mugs of tea. Tonight, he barely felt the cold. The moon, a punctuated sphere hung there, above him, alone, aghast, in the blackened, starless sky. When would she come? As he sat on the park bench and focused on the moon, it seemed to melt into the horrified, painted face of his Mother.

He tried to shake her away. Those heavily kohl’ed eyes scooped from her pale foundation, dark with hatred, or, what was it? He still couldn’t place it.


He racked his memory for clarity. It seemed so important now. Her dressing table had always been covered in products to style and tease and such; in aid of the creation of her Friday evening look. She used to sit in her robe, on those evenings, getting ready for a dinner dance, a soiree, ‘a child free activity‘ she had often quipped.

The dressing table, a wedding present from her mother, had sat opposite the perfectly made white linen bed. It also reflected the door, enabling Mother, he’d always presumed, never to be caught off guard.


It was the evening of his tenth birthday. Her sour face had twitched in its frozen pallidity, as her maid coiffed (with some obvious difficulty) her coarse brown hair and powder puffed her face white in preparation for the colour. She had watched them both advancing towards her through the mirror, and now he smiled to himself as he recalled his hand had been joined firmly, (and warmly) with Ada’s, as the pair (well, perhaps just Ada) had skipped into his Mother’s bedroom to ask if she could stay for tea.


His reaction had been admirable, considering. Once Mother had proceeded to spit out those most unexpected, shrieking, banishment-type words, casting them both to a lifetime of her ‘Motherly no’s’, he had covered Ada’s ears and tried to take her away from there. He had dragged Ada away, with all his 10 year old strength until, just as they had reached the door, Ada had quite refused to move and then, then, she had spun on her heels and stood in front of him, protecting him (as always) and he had covered his ears to stop Mother’s ricocheting threats and noisy accusations and there, back within that mirror, he caught it.

Ada had smiled – simply smiled, directly into that mirror, at his Mother, and yes, that was it. His mother had been stunned into an envious silence by Ada’s defiant light.


Tonight is an exceptionally cold night. He pulls his woollen coat tighter around his soft, bruised body and despite the cold wind biting his nose, he almost enjoys the shiver it sets off as it sweeps down his spine, and spreads through his chest. The final throes of cold force him to curl his stiffened toes within the confines of his trainers, neon laces dangling below.


Gently he pulls his skeletal knees up and into his body for warmth, (with surprising difficulty, he notes, for such light mass) shivering constantly as they rattle against the damp husk of his chest, through his thin hospital gown, as he lies in a foetal position on the park bench.


His Ada would have kept him warm this evening. His personal radiator, he called her for she was always warm to the touch and supple and inviting. Always ready to accept him in.


He closes his eyes now and breathes in deeply. He sucks in the cold air, setting off another shiver, stinging his nostrils, it freezes his lungs, triggering a hacking blood-spattered cough. With his gloveless fingers, he wipes the phlegm and blood spots from the corner of his mouth and the tears from both eyes and, yes! There she is! Tightly cane-rowed afro, green leggings and the studded nose ring she never took out.

Oh, how his belly flipped at her smile! It would be ok now she was here. She comforted him, always, just like the warm condensed milk on he.....[read full text]

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He would revel in the memory wisps of cinnamon buried within the cocoa-buttered skin of her neck or the smoothness of the inside of her wrist as she stroked his eyes closed, her rhythm catching his cheek.


And then, down there, where he was complete, and with an unfiltered kiss, he could always find the power to bring her back to him, to erase the tiredness or bitter fronds of their lives. On those days he repaid her, he restored her and he felt like a man.


And when Ada's mother died, she had smiled throughout the funeral and those that hadn’t known her well had reacted badly, and sniffed, noses in the air, at how surprisingly rude she had been. She hadn’t cared. She told him later on, when they were alone that she had smiled at her Mother’s graveside because she was recalling memories, their shared memories.

Her mother on her knees, scrubbing their linoed kitchen floor and wiggling her bottom in time, left to right, right to left, to the big Jazz band tunes of days gone by. Their laughter and giggles as they twirled around the kitchen together, Ada balanced on her mother’s feet, dancing to crackly recordings of Duke Ellington Live at Tivoli Gardens or Dizzy Gillespie or the Cole Porter Band.


Ada, Ada! His lip trembles now as he bites down hard upon the bottom flesh He doesn’t feel it. His taste buds are revisited by the memory of the sting of Ada’s firewater tears on the night of the day they had buried her Mother. He had kissed her tears then, one by one, not wanting them to stain her pretty face.

He had felt hideously drunk upon her sadness. Her tears seemed to burn a layer of skin from his tongue and he continued to feel the pain for days afterwards, as though Ada had purposefully singed the memory upon him that he may never forget the significance of the day.


And they had left the crowds of men and women, who had arrived at midday to the graveyard in their dark, multicoloured silks and heavily brocaded finery, in honour of Ada's Mother. The melee of colours gave warmth to an otherwise bland local day, and even his own Mother had appeared, of course she had stood at the back in severe head-to-toe black, along with her maid (holding a parasol, a parasol!- -of all things - above her head against the midday rain, in south London!) She had come, she had come, he conceded.


He and Ada left the mourners in the kitchen of the small 2-bedroomed maisonette, the glass and wire front door held wide open to their well-kept and flowerless front lawn with Ada’s sunflower doorstop. Some had stood in the hallway and some had stood in the garden (smoking) eating fried chicken and chunky fish moin-moin and drinking Guinness (men) and peach schnapps (women) in honour of the fine woman they had just laid to rest in the frozen ground of the cemetery.


They spoke of her lying in the earth of a land she had, in the end, made hers; theirs. Ada’s mother had certainly been an upstanding citizen if ever there was one, was she not? A member of all the church committees too and hadn’t she brought up Ada all alone and put her through that fashion college? Look oh, was she not a success now in honour of her Mother’s hard work and oh, just look at the fine original clothing her Mother had always worn to parties and to church every Sunday! But why oh, did they not go back home oh, and start a line of family clothing stores, they would be such a success with her western designs, especially in Lagos oh and tey could make some money and perhaps if that young girl had listened oh, her mother would still be here with us now eh eh, and why oh was Ada not married yet, surely it was time and who was this man in the wheelchair she had stood hand in hand with at her mothers graveside and look oh, perhaps now it was time she should go home and find herself a fine and proper husband, for otherwise who would .....

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Her blood, much to his Mother’s horror, had permanently stained the pavement outside the house.


He, (of course!) had cried with the shock. She hadn’t made a single sound. His Mother had spotted them through the kitchen window (what had she been doing in the kitchen?) and had tried to shoo Ada down the road through the stiff lace, pulling her usual grimaces and making her usual shooing sound. He had watched mother, mortified.

Ada stood up straight, pulled down her skirt and limp-marched ahead of him, right to the front door and straight in to the kitchen. She marched straight up to his mother and asked her for a towel and also a lift back to her home, for, as a Mother, how could she possibly expect a 14 year old to walk home with such injured knees!


Oh Ada! And now he silently sobs, ashamed at that memory (of all the memories!), of his bemused and disapproving Mother (in her ochre paisley house-robe) requesting her driver to take Ada (and only Ada!) to the end of her own road (and no further!). Ada had smiled at the driver and asked him to carry them both to the back seat of the car and the driver had happily obliged (quite ignoring his Mother’s request) and had chatted happily instead to them on the journey about the delicious truffles he had found in the woods behind Mother’s house.

Near their Penny tree in fact, he had told them, with a wink. The driver had delivered them both to Ada’s house and had carried them both into Ada’s living room and then had gone back to Mother with a smile to match Ada’s unsurrendering defiance.


Ada’s Mother had tended to her daughter with her cooing, cuddly ways. That day, he had wished an almighty wish (and not for the first – or last – time) to have lived there with them. And then, when Ada’s knees were covered in snoopy plasters, both mother and daughter had turned back to him, quite unforgotten in his chair, in the doorway, where the driver had left him, and they had smiled in unison, and clucked over .....

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He had not noticed it before. A red climbing frame is illuminated and Ada appears, atop, wearing her favourite blue dungaree shorts with neon green tights, one clasp undone, (always undone) hanging beneath her under-formed chest. There she stands, her balance victorious, The spotlight on her. She smiles. Her braids are thick and neat and tight, stretched into rows. Her well-oiled scalp presented to the sky.

Ah, they had both liked him to stroke it, slowly, following the path between them, from her wide unblemished forehead to the base of her long neck. There, at the base of her neck, they were fastened with multi-coloured bands of reds and yellows and blues. But, only when they both lay far behind his house, in the overgrown woodlands which hid them from sight, underneath their blossoming penny tree and their moulting penny tree and their naked penny tree, when they were just themselves, alone and everything was fine; there they knew everything would be alright.


The alarm on his watch rings. He looks at his wrist, jolted back to the present. The bone and fine brown hairs, the thin, translucent skin and the hospital band with his name, Ward and Doctor in Heuretica type font.

He doesn’t see any of this. Only the time. 2am. He knows they will be looking for him now. He knows it is time for the tablets of which he remembers that the nurse, and not Ada, would have been giving him on the ward right now. He shudders and closes his eyes to the memory of the crisp sheets of the hospital bed on his sallow skin.

He tries not to remember the room or the tv in the top right corner of the room or the blue vase, multiple yellow flowers drooping within it, by his bed.


Instead he focuses on the sounds, so pretty as Ada hummed indecipherable but exquisitely whispered melodies into his ear and into his dreams. Her smile into his eyes as the doctors inserted the needles into his arms and to his side and into his leg. And then he had fallen asleep.


He had awoken, his body aching in so many places and at once, gagging on the tubes in his nose and his mouth. But worse, much worse, was the realisation, the helpless pain of finding only his Mother at his side where Ada should have been. His Mother, fussing and crying above him (but not touching him). Mutterings from doctors at his bedside, his mothers whispers about recoveries being 'long and hard, almost impossible' (Mother had never been parsimonious with her sentiments).

He caught glimpses of his Mother shaking her head at the doctor and loudly whispering of how they would manage alone somehow now, she would take care of him now for the rest of his life, and he had struggled to find her, to place her. He had panicked and retched with the force of realisation. Ada should have been there with him and that she was not. Sh.....

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He smiles back in a suit she had designed just for him, of the palest gold and which brought out the blue in his eyes, so she said and she bends down to his wheelchair and she holds his hands tightly and she whispers, ‘you know, you know, you know .’


His eyes scratch the back of their sockets from another thwack to the back of his head and his teeth clang in his jaw and he reactively grinds them together, his tongue catching between them. Sweet warm blood fills his mouth, his tongue lolls half-hanging between his teeth, hanging by the un-severed tendons and then he keels sideways onto the gravel path below the bench.

His face smacks the ground with a speed that surpasses his thoughts and it feels as though he is being bitten by a thousand tiny splicing iced teeth all at once as the gravel embeds into his cheek on the left side of his face. His body remains there, curled into the foetal position as the boys kick him and kick him and kick him until finally, he is able to reach for those moonbeams and into those beams after all.


He opens his eyes. From his vantage point, at the side of a motorway, his head is aligned with feet. Many feet. In shoes. Mostly white plimsols or trainers. He can see a red car… upturned in a ditch ahead , the wheels askew. He sees a daisy, white and yellow on the roof. Stationary ambulance sirens wail deafening. The flashing lights blind him momentarily, so he closes his eyes.

He wants to sleep. The feeling overwhelms him. The blur of green uniforms spill from the back of the ambulance. There are many strange faces emoting concern, bewilderment, sorrow even horror – horror!


He tries to move his head to find Ada but he can’t. He sees her and relief floods his senses. She is lying next to him, lying! Her hand upon his face. She is still. He cannot feel her hand and his tongue is muted into stillness; he sees there is blood on her lips, those precious lips and a pool of blood under .....

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Except no, no, they are not in bed and he tries desperately now to open his eyes and he can’t and he remembers that she isn’t really there and soon neither will he be and so he stops fighting.


The sun is rising now above the park, with barely a winter strength and he knows this much, yes he knows with a certainty as clear as the memory of Ada Wilson saying ‘I do’, to a room of their friends and none of their family. He knows that he will not last another minute without her.


And as he struggles, his body automatically fighting for its last breaths, the moon is fading from the lightening winter sky. He sees her there, atop of the red climbing frame once more, neon tights glowing, her smile beckoning. He smiles back, quite smugly some might say, contentedly, those who knew him would say. He smiles because he knew and they knew, together, as they had always known, that everything would be al.....


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