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Anne Lawrence Bradshaw 



Anne Lawrence Bradshaw (formerly Anne Lawrence) was born and brought up in the North of England. After failing her first degree, she returned to 'school' as a mature student and finally graduated in 2013. She has since had work published in a handful of literary journals (‘Orbis’, ‘Acumen’, ‘Artemis’), as well as many online magazines (‘Eunoia Review’ (forthcoming), ‘Zetetic’, ‘Pigeonholes’, ‘Yellow Chair’ (forthcoming), ‘Blue Hour’, etc.). Her focus is varied, often dealing with the hidden underside of things, borderlines of consciousness, or the quiet moments in lives that may go unnoticed. Anne is married with three children and lives in Northumbria, near Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border. Tweet her @shrewdbanana

I had a dream and couldn’t wake up:

a mortal metamorphosis, like a beetle 

caught in a glass jar and peered at by the gods, 

mocked and played with for a while 

and then ignored.

It was as if all my colours had run out 

and I was invisible. 

My human self was present

yet dilute, weak. It was the last flutter 

of a broken bird’s wing 

in a calloused hand. 

It happened slowly: the people I met

in the street began to pass me by, and I realized

there was something fundamental 

missing, lost, gone.

I longed for such small things: 

the eye contact

the silent appraisal

the almost-smile 

the unconscious recognition 

of being human.

It became more present, a suspicion

which grew like nightshade coiling,

ever lurking in my mind. 

Then it got bolder, more persistent:

it started coming inside, into my house, and I was stranded 

on brittle-boned shores of incomplete conversations,

or looking out on empty vistas 

of unfathomable lost memories,

scraping bare feet on cold shingle 

that shifted uneasily beneath me.

I was forgotten, as the ‘what had been me’ 

was sacrificed to some important event on TV, 

to the press of buttons, the urgency of screens, 

the tears, feelings, laughter of strangers,

all not with me. 

I became a living ghost, 

a spectre wandering in the everyday rush. 

I tried to raise my voice but 

no sound came out; I only felt 

the gods laugh instead.

I thought: is this what life is now? 

Does anyone see me anymore? 

I thought about going away, 

disappearing for real, but 

melodrama was not my thing.

I felt no bitterness, yet silently 

I mourned my loss of strength, 

my faded colours. I grieved 

for the warrior lost to battles 

still unfought as I waited, 

grew inevitably cold, felt myself

wintered to stone, frozen 

to a threadwork of fine-webbed veins 

in a last hoar-frost chill.

And I wondered what I’d give – 

my arm, my eye, my soul perhaps?—

to feel the touch of spring 

and know it in my blood again.

To wake and find sunlight warming my pillow, 

the sound of birdsong in the clear, bright air

and you, lying next to me, smiling, 

soft-armed, welcoming me home, 

your eyes reflecting mine in a promise like 

morning mist on distant hills, rising up 

to reveal the colours of spring. 

No, instead I sleep on. 

Instead I know nothing 

but an endless winter’s

bare-limbed dream

and the gods who mocked

have forgotten my name.


I’m never at home much …Mondays, Fridays and Sundays it’s bingo. Tuesdays it’s the Sally Army lunch and then cards at Brenda’s in the evening. Thursday’s usually a good day for a bus trip somewhere - over the Pennines, or maybe the seaside in summer. Then Friday is shopping day – charity shops in the morning, stop off at the YMCA for a free lunch, and pick up a few groceries – good time to get bargains from the market, when they start selling things off cheap in the late afternoon – before I’m off again to bingo in the evening.


Saturday’s kept for the family in case they need me at all, but I usually end up calling in on Minnie round at number 17 instead. She’s more or less housebound now, poor thing. She’s only seventy eight too – nowt but a lass!


Sunday is a right pain what with the skeleton bus service, but Bobby, my eldest, will pick me up from Chapel and sometimes he calls in for a quick coffee before rushing back to his wife and his Grand Prix. Bingo again at night, and it’s generally a big prize on offer, so it’s worth fiddling about with the buses – even though it means a walk home at the end through an unlit car-park. I’ve been mugged twice there already. Just in case, I carry a ‘dummy purse’ in my bag now. It’s only got a couple of pounds in it, and I keep most of my cash in a wallet tied round me waist.


It’s still a nuisance though, and the last time it happened I got a right belter of a bruise which was there for about three weeks after some drug-addled junkie pushed me off the pavement and I bashed my head on the side of a lamppost. I still didn’t let go of my bag though! In the end, he ran off when I shouted and shouted and just wouldn’t stop …Aye, he got more than he bargained for, all right, the little bugger.


Still, it shakes you up. I tell folk about it, and I think they don’t really know whether to believe me or not. I suppose they don’t like to be told that this kind of thing goes on round here. And they’re probably thinking to themselves: ‘She’s over 90 years old – why doesn’t she just stay at home?’


The truth is, this isn’t even home. This is just somewhere the council gave us after they demolished our real homes years ago. My home was in a long lost terrace, along an ordinary street, with proper neighbours and all their kids and old folk too. They were “two up and two downs” as we called them, nothing fancy, and we had a big metal key to the toilet-block at the end. No indoor bathrooms, true, but no stealing and no mugging either. Well, no one had anything to steal anyway! We could leave the front door unlocked, windows open, washing out on lines at the back, doorsteps always scrubbed and swept. Otherwise, folk’d wonder what was up. Little things like that used to matter.


But it was all real, you know? None of these computers and virtual this and that. No satellites and videos and posh cars that cost an arm and a leg. None of your holidays abroad – it was Blackpool, or Bridlington, that was it -  and none of that celebrity rubbish. The kids didn’t seem to get allergies, and there was no bird flu, no AIDS, no mad cows, no superbugs. It was just everyday life, but we were all in it together, and …well, it probably seems a bit boring to you now.


But at least you’d never get mugged in your nineties.


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