Their Memories by Jude Higgins

Originally published in Visual Verse

I said everyone has a memory of walking through a field of corn, and you said it wasn’t corn, it was rye and you watched me pulling off a handful of grains to eat like I’d done ever since I was a child and waited until I was about to put them in my mouth before you said that rye gets a fungus called ergot and Ergotism can cause both physical and mental harm, including convulsions, miscarriage, necrosis of digits, hallucinations and death. And I said, why did you have to wait until I was about to eat them before you told me and what is necrosis anyway? So after that I stopped speaking to you for a while and made a point of eating all the unwashed strawberries from the carton we’d bought in the lay-by from the people in the rusty van, as if I couldn’t care less that the berries had been sprayed with goodness-knows- what, and you walked on in front of me, snapping off the long stalks and when we reached the common where the path was overgrown with bracken, you said I should have worn trousers, ticks love bracken. You said you’d some waterproofs in your rucksack I could put on – I didn’t want to get Lyme’s Disease, did I? And I said if I’d already contracted Ergotism what would it matter? You said I hadn’t actually eaten any rye, had I? – you’d stopped me – and not to be so childish, you were only trying to look after me, like you always did. And I said I don’t want to be looked after, I’m a grown woman. And you said, well act like one then. I reminded you this was the second row we’d had a field of grain. The first was when we were on that long walk and you said you could find the way home by looking at the way lichen grew on trees. When night fell, we were lost and you led us on a so-called short cut through a field littered with great spools of hay. It was humid and we’d been walking for hours. I said we had to have a rest and you were an idiot. You said you weren’t an idiot – everyone should get lost once in a while, that’s what made life exciting. I said it didn’t have to be on a day when it felt like thunder. It won’t thunder you said, so I spread out our picnic blanket next to one of the spools of hay and we shared a Snickers bar you found in your pocket and watched the moon come up. I remember that Snickers bar, you said, it tasted really good. It did, I said – do you remember the moon? And you smiled and said yes, it was a good memory. Then you rummaged in your rucksack, brought out a Mars bar and gave me the first bite.

Jude Higgins was hooked on writing flash fiction after a workshop with Tania Hershman in 2012. Jude’s since been successful in several flash fiction competitions including the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, the National Flash Fiction Day Micro Award, and the Exeter Flash Fiction prize. She launched the Bath Flash Fiction Award this year and has been co-running The Bath Short Story Award since 2012. Jude is published in the Fish Prize Anthology, 2014, in Cinnamon Press, and on Visual Verse. With her colleague at Writing Events Bath, she leads creative writing sessions and puts on author events in cafes and libraries in Bath. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

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