Open 2023 Stories - Isabelle B.L


Visiting Hours Between Two and Four

By Isabelle B.L


Sons and daughters paint a smile across their faces and enter. I have the best room in the government owned building. I stick my head out to prove it to the ones I raised.

Two furry red squirrelsare chasing each other up and down a Scots Pine like shimmering garlands. The ones I raised choose to inspect walls in need of a fresh coat of paint instead. Lavender permeates the room, but they crumple their faces at imaginary whiffs.

The ones I raised scan the one that carried them into this world. The knee length stockings sagging like the skin of a Basset Hound. The thingamajig encrusted on the tips of curly collars, elastic cuffs, the periphery of a threadbare cardigan. Last week’s oatmeal? Croutons once drenched in soup? Lunchtime tomato spatter?Stringy grey strands sprinkled with white dots. Me as a shabby farmhouse in the middle of an exceptionally harsh winter.

My first-born selects this version of me. He shakes his head.

Tuesday’s child runs out. “I need to take this mum.”

My last-born gets down on her knees. “Did you shower this morning, mum?”I gulp what little saliva is left and watch the hands of the clock until half past two.
Sons and daughters do not stay until four o’clock. If they did, I’dbob peppermint, ginger, chai teabags for them. Tap my foot and hum to an Evelyn Knight classic. I’d grab a son and swirlhim across the laminate floors.Show off my latest gift in a wrist flexion and rotation. A pearl bracelet from neighbourJohn, down the hall, last room on the right. Because yes dear ones that I raised, your mother can still give love, receive love and make love.

I watch the ones I raised skid away. They failed to see in thirty minutes what is working. An old, dog-eared book is still readable. A foam cup is reusable. Ninety percent of a bruised apple is edible.

I stand at the window just in case one does a U-turn, gets out of the car, pushes the door crowded with those that wait, runs into my arms and says: I can see you mum. All of you. But visiting hours are now over.


Isabelle B.L is a writer and teacher based in France. Her work can be found in the Best Microfiction 2022 anthology, Visual Verse, Compass Rose Literary Journal, Overheard, Writing In A Woman’s Voice and elsewhere


Our Contributors !!

Some of our writers!

  • We occasionally invite writers to send their musings. Do send in your work, and we will host it here.
  • Do visit the Submit page to submit your work.