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Author: Iona Winter

Ladybird

When she stepped into the garden, Vanessa asked inside her head, “Is it time? Is it time? Is it time?”

She often repeated thoughts, or counted breaths and how many stirs she did in her tea.

“Healer-shaman-witch,” she snorted.

Last night it had rained. Her feet damp, Vanessa sniffed the air and felt the ground’s stored heat embrace her.

“Clever earth,” she whispered.

She’d never known blackcurrant bushes had their own smell, or that ladybirds could fly. While on her hands and knees in the soil, she treasured these new facts as if they were diamonds.

In response to this information, or offers of herbs for ailments, her children laughed and said, “Okay Mrs Cray-Cray,” and wiggled their fingers clockwise around their ears.

She looked up and noticed clouds race across the sky as if chased by an old woman with a stiff broom. They were in a hurry. She remembered what that was like. Her life before had known none of this awareness.

Vanessa had no choice in the end but to leave her career, with its fifty-two seasons-a-year merchandising madness and the rush to perform albeit via fingers, thumbs and devices, and anxiety medication popped like lollies, doled out by health professionals with a flick of a pen, saying, “Next please.”

There was no time for anything meaningful, because it was an incessant hush-rush-pressure-want-insomnia-consume-stress-greed, and she gobbled it up like a factory hen.

No space for pause, breath or laughter.

Vanessa looked around the garden, then closed her eyes and listened. The seasons were changing—bird songs quieter now.

Her hand moved to feel the beat of her heart, so perfectly timed. The tiny metal machine in there whirred.

Replete, she lay down beside the blackcurrant bush and smiled.

It wasn’t time yet.


Flash Fiction by Iona Winter
Picture: Ladybird by William Warby under CC BY 2.0
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