Walking Upside Down. Fiction by John Ravenscroft

Walking Upside-down

In my dreams, the good ones, Mary Iris McCormack – Mim for short – is forever doing handstands, her knees bent, her feet planted flat against the redbrick playground wall. The skirt of her school uniform hangs like a soft green bell about the half-hidden clapper of her head, and when she turns to face me I see strange, knowing, upside-down eyes peering from beneath the inverted hem. She looks away and a quick flick of blond hair sweeps a swirl of dust from the asphalt.

Dreaming, half-aware of the fact, I wonder how long it’s been since that hot yellow-blue, small-town afternoon in her sister’s tent. Thirty-nine years? Forty? Can that be true? Has it really been so long since she left me, moved to the city, the bright lights, London?

From the skirt-bell’s apex two flawless legs rise into the air, a matched pair of flying buttresses kissing the wall to keep it in its place. Suddenly straightened, oh-so-carefully parted, they become a walking V as Mim inches towards me, poised, balanced, her hands sharp-angled on strong, supple wrists. Spectacular. V for victory.

I hear high-pitched peals of laughter coming from the bell’s interior, and at the dark forbidden fork – a place my eyes have no legitimate business – I see her navy-blue knickers.

Three times in the past week I’ve woken at this point and looked towards the pool of light where the night-nurses sit. I know one of them well – nurse Mary O’Connor, redheaded with a lovely Irish lilt on her. Her father used to be my postman, delivering my letters, collecting my replies, bringing me dry paper and disappointment. Big city news – too big for a small town Freiston boy like me.

Oh, Mim.

When she moves in a certain way, laughs just so, Nurse Mary O’Connor
reminds me of you.

I like to imagine her standing, yawning, unhitching herself from her station and her little pool of sensible light. I like to picture her upended, walking silently through the sleeping ward on her hands, her crisp white uniform too tight to do the bell thing, but her no-nonsense cap dropping off and her red hair tumbling free.

I see her stop at my bed, grin, execute a slow turn, and head back towards her desk. Yes. Even without a bell, even without a glimpse of navy-blue underwear, that would be something worth waking for.

I close my eyes and think about you, Mim – still doing handstands in my dreams, still showing me your knickers, still getting me into trouble after all these years.

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John Ravenscroft’s website http://www.johnravenscroft.co.uk/1154.html has lots of goodies and information – much outdated but of everlasting interest. There´s even a mugshot of him under Welcome! And he plays a mean guitar – see his videos https://www.youtube.com/user/JohnMRavenscroft where his mugshot is even more current.

Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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