Category Archives: Gill Hoffs

A bottle of raspberries by Gill Hoffs

Somewhere amongst the jagged greenery of Auchterarder lies a bottle of my childhood. It hides intact, leaves rotting beneath. Maybe shrews have scrabbled its narrowed neck and birds pecked its silver lid, hoping for the tender fruits inside.

There must be alcohol now. I shouldn’t like to smell the ferment of my youth.

A bright grey day, cloud acting as net over a whore’s lampshade, glowing misery as I plan escape. Small children, not quite cousins, watch my fingers pluck pink and red, staining hang-nails, forcing raspberry hats through the long clear tunnel, all witness, none quite seeing, as seeds and softness fall in red smears, joined by others but never quite filling that hollow, glassy tomb. I twist the cap tight with painful palms and no intention of collecting the twenty pence offered for safe return. Brown eyes, his family’s, not mine, not yet, watch me hide my precious stash, ignoring my Icarus-real plans for flight.

So did the children’s mother, his sister, scolding me for showing them those forbidden fruits of crimson and pink, scared they will explore with others, sour their stomachs, risk their lives. No-one cared to ask me why, to even attempt to resurrect the rotting raspberries as they stifled and curdled in silence, ignored by all. These rose-red fruit, snow-white nubs left dangling and bare on slender green stalks, do not await Prince Charming’s kiss.

For that’s how this started and never quite ended.

With one secret, soiling kiss.


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