Jennifer carefully tightens the last tiny wingnut, a turn for a word: serendipity, coruscate, hullabaloo. The press is beginning to fill up now, its square cardboard layers fat with words. A club sandwich of all those which taste delicious on her tongue. But how to choose only the ones she loves best, how to weigh up the rich mouthfeel of sumptuous, the sweet tingle of propinquity against the fullness of petrichor, the sharpness of paradox. She traces the outline of a naively painted tulip on the wooden top, mouths bunch, filament, anther. The air is dry, curtains pulled tight at the windows, keeping cold out and warmth in. Keeping words from escaping, keeping unwanted words from sneaking up on her. Grandpa taught her the value of all things spoken – used to story-tell instead of reading. He would sing a fragrant washing-line of words as he worked, smacking his lips, and rolling every ‘r’ like a treat.
“Words are ours to use, Jen,” he used to say. Before.
He had a word of his own for everything; each letter a plaything to brighten the day.
No, not everything.
A chill rushes into the room like air leaving a party balloon. Feelings as old as yellowed paper doilies, and words wound as tight as balls of shed-string flood her. She turns each wingnut just one more rotation: father, mother, daughter, other.
Marie Little lives near fields and writes in the shed. She has short fiction featured in: The Birdseed, Re-Side, The Cabinet of Heed, HAD, Free Flash Fiction and more. She also writes and publishes poetry. Marie is on Twitter @jamsaucer. See marielittlewords.co.uk for more.