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Mary Flodden




‘Trafic Lights’

Trafic Lights

Sitting uneasily on her cold, hard Windsor chair, for which she still hadn't got round to making a cosy cushion, Mary flicked aside a loose strand of fine auburn hair as she sat, staring vacantly, at the blank computer screen in front  of her. The builders next door were still hammering away incessantly, whilst the brisk traffic along the main road outside continued to hurry by, ebbing and flowing like a perpetual tide. Well, she had insisted on keeping those flimsy old sash windows rather than having them replaced by ugly double-glazing like  the rotten windows downstairs after the death of her beloved grandmother early  last months. It was a bit irritating, however that, as soon as she'd finished  carrying out some much-needed renovations, the neighbours should decide to  follow suit! Mary gazed down at her slender, ring-adorned, pale white hands with  their immaculate scarlet fingernails hovering expectantly over the keyboard, but  her mind kept on wandering and there seemed scant prospect of settling down to  write up that next chapter of her Sappho romance.

Restlessly, her eyes glanced from the various sheets of draft material scattered about in untidy heaps on the floor to the rows of green and red Loebs  intermingled with cheap glossy paperbacks and tatty old hardbacks. There were also a handful of prized leather volumes - gathered together by her grandmother  over a period of more than fifty years - one of which had once belonged to the Classical scholar H.D.F.Kitto. Mary recollected with a fond smile how her grandmother had never permitted her to so much as touch any of these old leather tomes whilst wearing nail varnish. She recalled various occasions when her  beloved gran had consequently insisted on turning over the pages for her while  she read, and a tear came to her eye.

After spending the last couple of months caring for her dying grandmother  who, despite her advanced age, had brought her up single-handedly, perhaps she  ought to consider pursuing one of her keen academic interests and undertake some postgraduate studies? At least she had managed to complete her BA before her eighty-seven-year-old grandmother had suddenly fallen seriously ill and required constant attention in her last few months of life. It had been a gruelling  experience for a vivacious twenty-one-year-old, but of course she had never even  contemplated putting her beloved grandmother into a nursing home.

But, now that her grandmother had passed away, Mary felt desperately lonely,  despite the various school and university friends whom she kept in contact with.  Regrettably, she had never known her own mother, who had died giving birth to her, and had no particular desire to track down her father who, having entrusted the infant to her grandmother, had moved abroad shortly afterwards. He had  remarried - apparently within eighteen months of her mother's death - and,  although he still occasionally sent her birthday and Christmas cards and the odd present, as far as she could recall, she had never actually seen him. Mary knew that she had several half-brothers and sisters - her father had once or twice sent her photographs of them - but, unfortunately, they were complete strangers.  There was her eighty-four-year-old great-aunt Ruby - now living in a Bournemouth  nursing home - whom she occasionally saw, as well as a handful of more distant  relatives scattered about Scotland but, with the death of her grandmother, Mary was alone.


REVIEW: Mary Flodden's words flow as pleasantly as chamber music in this heartfelt story of a young woman suddenly alone in the world after her grandmother has died.

January Altisse