W4W : Scratch

Drawing of child's face

Image : Pixabay

Helen picks up the scalpel, presses it firm between thumb and forefinger. The point digs into the flesh of the paper. Her hand shakes. She has to be careful , follow the outline to the millimetre. If she leaves a scrap behind …

What if she’s wrong?

The print sings from the book, black ink on a discoloured page, the surface sunk  under thick lines where the wood block has bitten. She studies the picture for the thousandth time.

There’s a forest clearing surrounded by fir trees scaly with cones, prickled dark with needles. A tawny owl sits high on a branch, watching. A family of mice huddle at the base of an oak, though she only noticed them after the fourth night poring over the image.

What she always returns to is the clearing.

Ankle deep in clover flowers tiny as rice grains, is a girl in a white dress, stitching crisscrossing her bodice. Helen imagines the thread to be red and yellow, though only black shows on the print. Around the girl’s shoulders hangs a cloak, the hood fallen, exposing pale plaits. The bow unravelled on one hints something is wrong. Will be wrong. Is wrong.

But the face … Dark, fear filled eyes, mouth open in a gasp. From her left hand hangs a stuffed teddy – threadbare through love – with one button eye.

Helen looks up to the wall, to a picture frame hanging there. The same eyes – joyful then – the same plaits, yellow and red diamonds on her favourite party dress.  It’s the photograph the police used for the Missing Person poster, though they focussed on her daughter’s face, Bear only visible in the bottom corner. Helen found his other eye after they’d searched the bedrooms.

She turns back to the book, scalpel shaking.

‘Hold on,’ she whispers. ‘Hold on.’

The blade scratches the surface.



Here’s a Wednesday Word Tangle – a W4W – with a difference. Today, I’ve used my chosen word as a jumping off point for a story.

The word of the day is SCRATCH, which according to the Online Eymology Dictionary is from the early 15th century and probably a fusion of two Middle English words – crachen and scratten, meaning, well, scratch. Aren’t they brilliant?

Fancy a good scratten? Crachen my back and I’ll crach yours?

To accompany this is the nickname for the Devil – Old Scratch – probably from the Old Norse skratte, meaning goblin or wizard. Similar words for goblins and imps abound in the colder climbs of Europe – such as the German schratt and Polish skrzat.

So, we have scratching, the Devil and my new found love of paper cutting … What else could I write but a wood pulp bound fairy tale?

Thanks to Kat, as always – blogging pal and founder of W4W.


12 thoughts on “W4W : Scratch

    1. Thanks lovely. I do love W4W and wouldn’t miss it for the world, but just found myself out of time for my usual researching / linking / drafting / redrafting – a bit of flash is quicker somehow.
      Will pop over to read yours now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been very bad and not posted one. Had an emergency root canal yesterday morning so I am using that as my excuse. I’m pretty miserable, no painkillers seem to touch this at all… And I’m down €630! Ah well… This too shall pass, right?!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry, only noticed after I commented you hadn’t managed to do a post. You poor thing. Emergency root canal? Tooth ache is the worst too. One of the few times I’ve seen my mum cry was when she had an abcess, so I can only imagine what you’re going through. You’re really not having much luck lately are you, you poor love? Could the dentist not give you any ‘proper’ pain killers? Mum swigged whisky miniatures while she waited to have her tooth pulled, though not quiet sure if alcohol is as brilliant at killing pain as we all imagine. Oil of cloves? Go find some teenagers and buy some nitrous oxide off them? Really sorry, lovely. Hope it eases really soon for you. All my best XXX

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha! If only I could score some drugs, Lynn, if only!
        This is my second root canal. I cracked both my back right molars due to clenching my jaw. I need to get over my stress I guess! I am LITERALLY hurting myself – but I’ve always said I’m self destructive and my own worst enemy! And I’ve had a wisdom tooth extraction that left me looking like I had gone three rounds with Mike Tyson – not THAT was pain!
        I keep saying to myself, ‘it will end’ but it makes me really feel for poor teething babies. They have no concept of time and must think “shit! this is gonna be my life now, forever!” (Yeah, my baby would be a curser from day one!)
        And tomorrow I get a second cortisone injection right into my rotator cuff tendon… this could well be the week I turn to drugs!
        Thanks for the well wishes xx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Damn, you’ve been in the wars. How is the shoulder – any better? You could just do with being numbed all over until your body’s healed itself. I hope that’s soon, pet. Take care X

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ha! Hope you’re feling better than you did the other day – tooth improving? Guess what? My hubs has just found out he’s damaged his rotary cuff thingy too. On some very strong painkillers.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. No, really? Still struggling. That’s rubbish. I guess they have to knock you around a lot when they do something so invasive. I do hope you find something to ease you soon. Keep tucked up and look after yourself, love x

        Liked by 1 person

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