White Stars

This short story was written as an exercise in the Camera Technique, a writing technique where you change the focus from close up to far away (or vice versa)…

Stars on the walls. They had six petals. Magen Davids stretched out. Far above, between the buildings the sky; no sunshine, just grey. She sat there, bundled in her waterproof jacket with her knapsack. She would have her drink later at morning interval and she would see what Daddy had put there for her snack. Her Mummy hadn’t been at home to kiss her goodbye this morning. Just Daddy hurried her to the bus and took her to kindergarten with him but kindergarten wasn’t open. 

‘Wait there for me,’ he said and walked off so very quickly  along the side of the building. Perhaps he’d gone to find the teachers to open the kindergarten doors. She hoped so. She missed her friends. Hans had left now and Marie didn’t come any more but Sarah and Timmy had been there yesterday. 

The end of the alley looked so far away – the people and the street and now and again a passing car. It felt cold in the shadow where she sat but her Daddy had told her to stay there. She looked at the white flowers in front of her face and then down the long alley between the buildings again and –


She could see his tall figure, his hat pulled down against sleet that now batted down between the tall buildings so she crouched against their hard walls for shelter. He didn’t look at her. He didn’t wave to her to come. He was talking to two men dressed the same in dark green jackets and trousers. They moved close in beside him and he walked away with them, never looking back.

‘Daddy!’ Now she cried out and ran, tripping over trailing tendrils from the white starred plants, running as fast as her four year old legs could take her. Breathless she reached the end of the alley at last but she couldn’t see her Daddy anywhere. The only moving thing on the road was a large, grey truck rumbling into the distance.

Now at forty Ruth reconsiders the white flowers beneath her fingers, sees again the departure of her Father.  He hadn’t abandoned her. Her Mother hadn’t deliberately left them. Now inside the distance of her adult self she knows the truth but still she feels the immediacy of the child’s hurt and the loss and the bewilderment that has up till now coloured her whole life – grey like the sleety day, white like torn petals on the ground. Magen David flowers that can never be mended.

© Copyright Pamela Gervai– January 2010


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