17 Mar


Catherine felt a chill as they crossed the threshold, and pulled the grey shawl tightly around her shoulders.

The boys were fooling around as usual, noisy and annoying.

‘Stop it! She pleaded.’

Her younger brother Billy, paused briefly, breathless and bright eyed after racing Alfie up the street.   He was gleefully unaware of the situation and after a brief glance around the sparse, cold hallway, kicked his little brother Alfie up the backside and resumed their play fight.

‘Stop it Billy! Can’t you see what’s happening?’

She felt helpless, as usual when her brothers behaved this way.   Auntie Lizzie, forlornly draped in a long, loose fitting black coat, looked resigned, and resolute;   but Catherine had hoped for a change of heart.  If the boys would stop their silly behaviour, Auntie Lizzie might turn around and they could all go home.

To be fair, they hadn’t been told what was to happen that day.  Catherine knew.   Twelve years of age, and the oldest of the children, she had grown up quickly; mothering the boys through years of turmoil.

Auntie Lizzie perched nervously on the single wooden bench, worn and splintered, like the lives of those to whom it lent support.    Catherine battled her feelings of hatred towards the tired woman, whose grey, mournful eyes reflected the destitution faced by so many of Liverpool’s struggling poor.  For in the fading, pretty features of Auntie Lizzie, she could perceive her own mother.




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