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(A short story of 1537 words)

Dual Carriageway

Literary

by Claire Collison


An unexpected twist in the closing frames of an old home movie sends Rose hurtling back to her childhood - a time and a place where no one else's parents were divorcing, and where stepmothers were as exotic as shop-bought cake. Revisiting her memories of glamorous part-time fathers and fortnightly treats, Rose unpicks the unspoken adult acrimony, and the childish confusion:

"Each time they were returned to her with their bounty she was tight-lipped and unimpressed, flattening their ebullience to a shapeless guilt, their double bind of love and loyalty teaching them early to suppress their enthusiasm in her company."

Dual Carriageway is about parents and children, and how complicated it all is.


Rose has no idea what she is about to see. She half expects the projector that balances on a pile of telephone directories to chew up the spool of Super 8 film before she gets a chance to find out. Turning the table lamp off, she flicks the switch. The length of white feeder blanches the wall before soaking it in the purple-brown hues of sixties film stock. Two little girls on the steps of a caravan. Rose leans forward. She recognises herself not with any rational sense, but with a pang of protective love for the three-year-old who grins at her from the living room wall. She and her sister Alice walking along a windy promenade. Alice has on a red jumper that Rose remembers wearing herself some four years later. She can feel it prickly on her skin; trace the pattern of snowflakes with her finger...
 

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A review of Dual Carriageway from the CUT team....

The camera doesn’t lie as the viewing of an old home movie causes Rose to revisit a period of flux in her childhood on a deeper, more personal level, and to reflect on the adult relationships that defined it. An elegantly written short story about memory and perspective.

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