Long listed for the WALKING HOME writing competition run in January & February 2022
“Feets hurt,” you say.
I bend down to lift you up and inhale your bobbled-woollen warmth, the apple shampoo that winds through your knotted dark curls, and the honeyed porridge crusting on your flushed cheek. The rainbow wellies were a mistake, despite the mud trapped in the ridges: now two damp, clay smears on the shoulders of my padded coat.
Your soft-mittened hand brushes my neck as you point to our neighbour’s cat, washing its ginger paws behind the frost-splattered window at the end of the street. It yawns, stretches like silk, and turns its back on us, tail erect.
You tug at the reins of hair that escape my beanie as I stirrup your legs with my fingers.
“Giddy-up,” you say, hands knitting together around my head, two warm pads, scrunched tight.
Soon you’ll be too big to carry, and the fabric of your childhood will be edged with bias, bound, and knotted by embarrassment. You’ll think carefully before allowing me to touch your hand or walk within a stitch of you.
“Neigh,” I say, pawing the pavement with my boot.
Your breath mists and laces my cheek, as giggles snip through the icy air.
Read more from the Long List of poems and stories submitted to the WALKING HOME writing competition. Watch winning authors reading their work on the video of the Write About Walking Home showcase event that took place on Sunday 25 September 2022.
Itching to write something yourself? Submit a piece to our Shorelines project, and invite your friends to read it aloud. Join one of our creative writing workshops or keep up to date with all our competitions by signing up to our curated newsletter here.