Reflection on Writing

by Fiona McKay

Read her story Visiting Time here

“Visiting Time” is a tiny piece I wrote one day during the first year of the pandemic, when I had been to visit my mother in her nearby nursing home. I live by the sea, so the drive is nice; the visits, less so. That particular day had a Kodachrome feel to it, as though the world had an Instagram filter already overlaid, and it gave an out-of-body feeling, as though I was driving through a 1950s movie. The sea was almost green.

My relationship with my mother is wonderful – if I am exactly the person she dictates. If I am too loud, or too large, or in a myriad of other ways fail to conform to her expectations, then things aren’t so good. Or weren’t, before the dementia, which is worse now than it was when I wrote the piece. On the day in question, and many others, I procrastinated my visit by taking a longer route, looping through the harbour, instead of taking the shortcut. I couldn’t face another discussion where the dead appeared and I was always in the wrong.

I thought, as I drove, of how things change, over the years. I thought of how my mother had attempted to control me for so much of my life, without me realising it. How confused I had been by the difference between what she said and how she acted. And I thought about how, even still, I was driving to see her every week. About how I was taking care of her finances and paperwork. About how I would keep doing these things even when she said terrible things to me. About how I continued to care, when maybe others might not. About the relationship between the child I had been and the adult I now was, and what that meant for the duty I had towards my mother. And I wondered if that day, she would introduce me to the staff of the nursing home, again, as her sister.

Fiona McKay lives beside the sea in Dublin, Ireland with her husband and daughter. She writes flash fiction, short stories, and is also revising a novel. Writes with Writers’ HQ. Words in various places, including: Reflex Fiction, Janus Literary, Scrawl Place, Bath Flash, Lumiere Review, Lost Balloon. Supported by Arts Council Ireland Agility Award. Tweets about writing at @fionaemckayryan

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