Tuesday 5 December 2017

Her Coronet Weeds by Yasmina Floyer

Yasmina lives in London where she takes care of her family and works as a private tutor. Since completing a Master's in Creative Writing at Glasgow University, her work has been published in Avis Literary Journal and Litro Magazine, and her poems published online at By&By Poetry.

Is the sea angry? Ophelia asks, hugging her knees to her chest. The cold roof tiles numb her little bottom and the backs of her legs. Her toes feel alien to her in soggy socks, fingers asleep in redundant gloves. When her father, who sits beside her, asks whether she is cold, she says no, absentmindedly kicking the heels of her trainers together. The flashing lights in the rubber heel stopped working long ago. She itches at her shock of red hair, usually immaculate in plaited pigtails, now an unruly of tangle curls. It had always been mother’s job to brush it.
      Her eyes are fixed on a magpie floating in the briny floodwater. Steam rises in spite of the impending cold brought on by the evening. The bird’s once monochrome plume has amalgamated into a xanthous hue, similar to the sun-bleached fur of Ophelia’s teddies, mottled and neglected on her bedroom windowsill. A rainbow film on the skin of the water’s surface parts reverentially to allow the bird passage toward the crumbling bricks of Ophelia’s house and for a moment she is able to forget as the magpie cuts through the spectrum of colour. Moments later the noxious film disperses and seagulls circle overhead.
It takes a while for her to realise that the bird is dead, that it is the current of the water and nothing more compelling it to bob against the side of the house before pulling away and bobbing against it once more. The magpie tilts towards her to expose a featherless wing, its tiny bones like spindly crochet needles. Her father, noticing the object of his daughter’s gaze, wraps an arm around her shoulders. She squirms beneath his hold, all angles jutting into his ribs until she produces a copper penny from her sock. She holds it up so close to her father’s face that he can smell the bloody warmth of it.
It has my birthday on it, Daddy, she says, holding it closer still. Ophelia holds it tightly in her fist then flicks it high. The ring of the coin cleanses the air before landing with a low slap. She watches the red fade, then disappear, looking hard at the water until she is certain it is gone. The girl waits to see what the coin will bring up but is met with nothing but a widening ring of ripples that eventually reaches the side of the house, agitating the magpie.

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