Perfect Word

I looked out of the hall window at the snow-silent street, and remembered my father’s word for the glitter frosting that sparkled beneath the streetlights: crackledust. I’d never been sure about that word. ‘Snow doesn’t crackle, snow crunches,’ I used to tell him. He’d just smile.

I stood in the hallway, surrounded by the boxes and bin liners containing his clothes. I had performed the task of sorting through them accompanied by a bottle of wine, packing systematically and methodically, without pause for the thoughts and memories that would have made it impossible. Jumpers, trousers, belts, shirts, ties, all neatly folded and coiled.

His green cardigan still hung on the end of the banister, the cardigan with a hole in the sleeve and the scuffed leather buttons. I was so used to seeing it there I must have overlooked it earlier. I wrapped it around my shoulders and opened the front door to greet the early-hours world.

The snow was falling faster. I threw my head back to catch the soft, fat flakes, and they melted like communion wafers on my tongue. I refused to take communion after the funeral, it would have been a sham, even though it was what my father had believed in. The body of Christ couldn’t save me, only the blood of Christ: the wine I drink to lessen the unexpected weight of grief.

As I stood in the garden I realised that my childhood home would soon belong to someone else, and I would never visit again. I would never eat a whole plate of my mother’s Yorkshire puddings filled with my father’s onion gravy. I would never be late for my train because of the dining room clock that was permanently twelve minutes slow.

Did I now need my own word for lamp-lit snow? As it glinted beneath the lights, a dusting of kali glitter, it was suddenly obvious I didn’t. I already had the perfect word. I wrapped my father’s cardigan tightly around myself and brushed away tears with the rough wool sleeve. My childhood home wasn’t bricks and mortar, it was crackledust.

 

About the author:

Mandy Huggins lives in Yorkshire and works in engineering. Her short fiction and travel writing have appeared in newspapers, anthologies and magazines. Competition successes include Bare Fiction, Retreat West, Ink Tears, Cinnamon Press, Bradt Travel Guides and BGTW New Travel Writer. She abandoned her first novel when she realised it was a short story. A selection of her stories will appear in a forthcoming Ink Tears Showcase Anthology.

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