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(A short story of 2562 words)

The Visit


by Lesley Jackson

A woman visits her daughter who has a job that she doesn't approve of, one that brings all her fears to the fore.

Laura holds her mobile phone close to her ear and her eyes scan each side of the road. As the car slows she catches sight of her daughter standing on a corner, waving. She looks thinner. She is up on her toes, her whole body stretching, leaning out past the row of cars.

“There she is!” Laura says to her husband, pointing to the right.

The car turns the corner and follows the girl as she walks down a row of modern terraced houses and stops at the last one. Laura gets out of the car and hugs her, while her husband parks the car carefully in the space opposite. The girl feels fragile in her arms but, despite the loss of weight, her eyes have a new sparkle and the dark blue, roll-necked, jumper she is wearing has turned them to indigo.

“You look much better, Anna,” her mother says.

The front door opens, revealing a knot of young people crowding the opening between the kitchen and the hallway.

“Come in, come in,” Anna says in a new, animated voice. “This is my friend Jane.”

Laura takes one of the plastic bags her husband has collected from the boot of the car and steps into the house.

“Ah, yes, hello Jane.”

“And this is Ray, who lives upstairs and this is Steve, who’s just visiting.”

“Hello,” Laura says, smiling at them both.

“And this is Mark,” Anna says, at the sound of rapid feet coming down the stairs. “Mark, this is my mother, and Jack, my step-dad.”

Mark leans forwards and shakes hands with each of them.

“It’s great to meet you, Mark. I’ve heard all about you.” Laura says. He looks gentle; Not Anna’s usual type...


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