Left behind

Photo prompt courtesy of Dale Rogerson.

“You give the signal if anyone comes,” my brothers would say. “You’re too little to come in.”

They played ‘snowman’. They’d throw the powdery stuff around until they became three pale ghosts. Standing guard near the gaping fence where they’d clambered through, I’d listen to their breathless laughter. 

For years afterwards they’d reminisce, reliving their antics in the derelict factory that was demolished before I grew old enough to join their game.

Tonight I’m on guard again, at another hospital bedside, listening as the last of them struggles for breath.

Outside, soft drifts of snow have turned the world white. 

*****

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

41 thoughts on “Left behind

    • That’s right. I was thinking of asbestos. I wasn’t sure if that had come through. I couldn’t decide if I needed to put in a more specific reference to what was happening in the derelict factory – sometimes it spoils the feeling of the story if you make it too obvious. We’ve had quite a lot of media attention to the dangers of asbestos here, with thousands of people affected, but I don’t know if it’s the same in other parts of the world. Thanks, Rochelle.

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    • Yes, it was. It’s a sad topic – sparked by a conversation I had with a friend recently about workers in a power plant years ago and the lack of protections in place for them. Thanks for your comment, Ali.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I wonder what was in that white fluffy stuff. She probably felt sad at the time not being allowed to join in, but realized (though sadly) it was a good thing she wasn’t. Beautifully written piece, Margaret.

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  2. This started out light and fun and turned my stomach in the end. The carelessness with which ‘white powder’ (I saw it as some poisonous chemical, pesticide etc.) is left lying around is criminal and seems universal. We’ve had the asbestos warnings years ago but there’s still a lot of ignorance. Great story, Margaret.

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    • It is a sickening reality. We’ve had a lot of media attention on asbestos contamination here, and some big court cases too. I had a conversation about it recently, and the white snow in the prompt made the link for me. Thanks for your comment, Gabriele.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poignant and so well-written. Love the way you connected the past and the present by referring to the toxic “white stuff” from the protagonist’s childhood and the snow turning the world white outside the hospital.

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  4. This was beautifully done. I first thought they were playing in the snow and then I realised this was a nod towards the hazards of asbestos that has taken so many lives.

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  5. So the derelict factory was contaminated. Kids were not supposed to go in and play. Now bad time is catching up. Who takes responsibility for leaving a place dirty?

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