Letters in a skip

By Irene Cantizano Bescós

A hot summer day, not yet sixteen, when everything that mattered was each other’s skin. 

We found a skip, and inside it, the wreckage of a life. Books and shoes and pill boxes and a pair of broken glasses. Letters from the war on parched, crumpled paper. So we took the letters to the park and read them under the dappled shade of the elm. Around us, the children were running and shouting, and it smelled of ice cream, sunscreen and sweat. 

But now we were in Santander in 1938, and sugar was a once-a-month treat, and we were scared. She was eighteen, and her sister and her nieces were coming from the south, escaping from the bombs, and no one knew when the war would end.

Still, there was a dress. She would wear it tonight to the dance, and maybe she would meet a boy, and she would go down to the beach and look at a thousand stars, and the breeze would rise from the sea to touch that spot on her bare shoulder and make her shiver in pleasure, and in that exact moment, just for a second, the whole universe would hold its breath. 

The moment passed, and the future claimed her. The long years of pain, and love, and loss and laughter that would end in a skip, then in our hands, on a hot summer day in Madrid when our lives were about to start.

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Irene Cantizano Bescós is a writer and immigrant from Spain lost between two languages. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Black Hare Press, Moria, Five Minutes, (mac)ro(mic), and Tales to Terrify, among others. She is also a freelance journalist, and her reporting has appeared in leading Spanish and UK titles such as Huffington Post, El País, Telva, and Positive News. Irene lives in England with her husband, two toddlers, and two warring cats. You can find her on Twitter as @IreneCantizano.

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