The Heel Added£0.99
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(A short story of 3105 words)

The Heel


by Gill Hollands

Angel returns to the island she grew up on, searching for answers, trawling through memories of catastrophe. Is her father still alive? What happened to him? Will she find the answers she seeks or open a whole new can of worms?

The keel ground on the stones. I leapt out into warm shallows like glass, eager to relive the idyll of my youth, touch the mossy wall of my memory.

My eyes scanned the barren expanse, the blackened distant hills. Nature had long dispersed the acrid stench that I recalled, the sky innocent of clouds. The cool wind reminded me it was still Spring, not the scorching summer which had often chased me into the sea. I stepped from the licking surf, trying to work my rusty, inner compass. The landmarks I remembered were gone, replaced by cold, crusted tongues of black magma reaching for the sea. Was I doing the right thing? Sighing, I trod into the heavy boots I carried, ready to take on the angry rock.

Clambering over the jagged humps I became aware of the clatter behind me. Glancing back, my partner Josh, had taken down the mast, stowed the oars.

‘It’s OK. Go on. I’ll catch up!’ He flapped a hand, bending back to his task. I clambered over the rocky runs, like the long, knotted fingers of a hand. Between were thin slivers of green, tenacious twigs struggling to survive in the scorched soil. One caught my eye, a small silvery bush, faded flowers still clinging to the branches. Touching a leaf, I remembered my mother planting it. Papa had brought it down the mountain for her, presented it with a kiss...

A tear burned a track down my cheek, stinging in the wind. I hadn’t realised how much this wound still hurt. The sound of Josh puffing as he heaved the boat up the beach, jerked me back. Clenching teeth, I moved on.

In the next ravine were more plants I recognised; my mother’s herb garden, running rampant. I rolled a soft mint leaf in my fingers, sniffed. Immediately, I was back there in the kitchen, gentle hands guiding mine as we kneaded bread, watching her chop with swift, nimble fingers...

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