Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Contents of His Pocket

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A stick of chewing gum.

He was always chewing. You called it common, tried to stop him but he only smiled and offered you some. He'd been doing it since he was twelve, tried to blow a bubble and spat it into his sister's hair. They hadn't told you. Her hair was long and thick, and by the time you came home from work half of it was missing. You took her to a hairdresser's the next day and she never wore it long again.
A smooth pebble.

He was always collecting things. When he was five it was worms. You remember emptying his trouser pockets to put them in the machine and they were full of dead and dying half dried worms. You'd been so glad when he graduated to marbles and football cards. The pebble you remember, it was from a beach holiday two years ago, the last you had as a family.

A wallet.

It's made of Gore-tex and Velcro. Inside it are his cards. He has only been working for a year, but he has had his own account since he was sixteen and had a Saturday job at the local supermarket. He hadn't run up a huge debt at college, you helped him out when you could. He was good with his money, he saved, for rainy days and holidays, like this one. With the bank cards are a card for Blockbuster video and a donor card. It makes you gasp, you didn't know he carried it, didn't know he had begun to think of the possibility that he might not live forever. There is a receipt for petrol and a sandwich bought at the service station. Tucked away at the back are tiny pictures of himself and his girlfriend taken at a photo booth, and one of his sister and one of you, cut from a family picture he took at Christmas. There's six pounds eighty two in cash.

A wristwatch and a broken compass.

The watch belonged to his grandfather, it is an Omega, it has a thick leather strap. He never wore it but he took it with him everywhere. He only remembered sitting on his granddad's knee and the day he upset the pot plants on granddad's doorstep. He'd been so angry, you had laughed, it didn't matter really. The next time you went round there the plants were growing better than ever, they had become pot bound and spilling them out had released the roots and given them a new lease of life. Your father died a couple of months later, in the autumn while the plants went into dormancy. The following year you forgot to water them and they all died any way.

The compass is a good one on a thick cord. The glass face is broken, probably where he fell. It was misty and he didn't see the edge, he might have tripped, it wasn't clear. He was a strong walker, a leader, striding on ahead of his friends. They had been camping out on Snowdon for three nights. He loved the open air; he always loved the camping holidays.

A diamond ring.

He'd showed you it before he left. Sarah, his girlfriend wasn't into camping and walking. You told him he was too young, he should live a little first. He said he wasn't getting married soon, but he loved her, they were meant to be together. This was his last holiday with the lads he said; next year it would be somewhere sunny with Sarah, then probably no holidays for a while. He wanted to settle down, buy a house, build a life, he said.

You slip the ring onto your little finger; your hands are swollen in the heat of inside and red from the cold outside. You sniff; you have a cold you think. The contents of his pocket have been shown to you. The items shaken back into the clear, plastic bag. You can have the Cagoule if you want they say, but it is ripped and cut from where they tried to revive him.

His sister slips her arms around you and pulls you away from the table. It has been a long journey to get here and will be a longer one back. Outside the mortuary they wait to take him, empty pocketed, home again.


Louise Graves lives in the North of England and is a mother of two boys and stepmother to a teenage girl. She has travelled over 500 miles to get where she is now and some may say she still has far to go. She has been writing for a while now and has a couple of online as well as paper publications to her name. Louise has been writing with Alex Keegan’s Bootcampers on and off for three years, she writes because she wants to, because she enjoys it and because no matter how hard she has tried she just can’t stop.


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