Belona Greenwood

Extract from: The House on Nowhere Lane

At first, mum won’t look at the letter.  She has one of her migraines and I have to sit and comb her hair.  She lies on the sofa in the curtain darkness and gives me the little comb.  Her hair is like silk, very fine and there’s a sheen on it.  My hands get slicky after a while.  She falls asleep and then I stop but otherwise I look for things to see in the half-light, little things that get missed and overlooked like a piece of jigsaw puzzle under the sideboard or the title of a book half-worn away.  Sometimes, she gets me to rub cream into her feet.  I roll down her stocking socks and get the Johnson’s Baby Lotion from the bathroom and rub and rub.  There’s a slapping, swicking sound to it.  The worst is when I have to cut her toenails.  Then there’s her scars, the ones on her knees where she had the joints replaced so she could walk around the yard.  She hasn’t walked around the yard since Christmas Day when she gave the chickens jam sandwiches as a treat. They pecked them till they got covered in dirt and chicken shit.  Then she grabbed Beatrice, and took her behind the chicken shed and came back with her, dead.

There are a lot of cupboards and drawers in the house and I have looked in all of them.  That’s why I know where to find the dress.  It’s long and green with little blue velvet bows on the front.  It glistens in my nightlight and it is so thin that I can roll it up and keep it in my bag.  It's hard to imagine how my mother ever fitted into it but she was as thin as me once.  I've seen the photos in the box under the bed. When she was young and her eyes were full of hope.  Photographs of when she lived in the city before she had 'Me', before,' when she had a 'Life'. I find some shoes too, red shoes that have lived forever in a box in the kitchen at the bottom of the dresser. I know she won’t notice, not even if those shoes walk out of the house on their own. She doesn't notice anything in her weak state.  She lets the dust grow like a skin over everything and she turns the TV up loud. I have to take the shoes.  I saw in a book that people dress up to go to the opera and they wear long dresses, fur coats and high-heeled shoes and I am going to the opera.


The complete story can be found in our UEA Special Edition, Volume Three.

Belona Greenwood has an MA in Creative Writing/Scriptwriting strand from the University of East Anglia. A former journalist, she won an Escalator award to write a book of creative non-fiction and is a winner of the Decibel Penguin Prize for Life Writing. Belona is a director of Chalk Circle Theatre Company and her most recent play Little Eden, a farrago and satire on nationalism spent five nights at The Garage this month.  The Shadow of Names was part of 2013’s European Contemporary Drama Review at the UEA.  Another play, Cafe de Sonhos, commissioned by the The Seachange Trust had a 2013 summer release at the community launch of St. George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth. Alice's Adventure was produced as part of Tribunal 12, Europe in the Dock at 2012's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.  She is part of Norfolk County Council's award-winning Artists for Climate Change. She is founder and co-organiser of Words and Women which supports and celebrates women writers in the East of England.