Mum always refused to wear a bra on Sundays; she called it her day of rest.  I got a right ribbing from the other lads at footie of course.  There she’d be on the side-lines, jumping about like some demented rabbit, her chest heaving up a few seconds after the rest of her.  Mum with her arms in the air and her mouth in an O, her hair fanning up like a mermaid’s.  It wasn’t so bad in winter, but once it got warmer I heard it all on the pitch: knockers, shirt puppies, jugs.  I found myself a nice flat chested girl called Aimee and spent my Saturday nights trying to fuck her in the car park at Pizza Hut, after all the staff went home.  

            When they cut off Mum’s right breast she still refused to wear a bra on Sundays.  Said she didn’t care, that she was like an Amazon warrior.  I had to look it up.  By then they’d installed a security camera at Pizza Hut – any car that stayed longer than one hour got a 60 quid fine, night or day.  An hour with Aimee was barely enough time to get her top button undone, so we had to move on to MacDonald’s.  We lay as tangled and awkward as metal coat hangers on the backseat, headlights from boy-racers diffusing through the condensation on the windows like passing UFOs.

            Now they’ve cut off Mum’s other breast she’s started to toe the line.  She wears this sturdy contraption, full of fake tits.  When I get in sometimes it’s hanging off the hook on the bathroom door.  She doesn’t come to practice every Sunday but when she does she stands with all the other mums, pouring coffee from a thermos, tipping away the dregs.  Her arms aren’t in the air and her mouth’s not in an O, her hair’s not fanning up like a mermaid’s.

            It’s a dull Tuesday afternoon when our history teacher takes us to the local museum.  He says it’s to enrich our learning experience, but I think he just can’t be arsed to teach us anything.  We shuffle past exhibits with worksheets which no one bothers to fill in and he doesn’t bother to check.  I lose my mates somewhere between Egypt and Greece, and end up in Ancient Rome: bits of broken pots, clumpy jewelery which looks like it was made by a five year old, statues missing noses or ears, or both.  And in amongst all these bits of junk and clutter I see her.  A warrior woman.  She’s got her bow pulled back with the arrow ready to soar, her eyes fixed on a point outside the glass case.  Her face is cold, hard, poised.  She couldn’t look more different to Mum if she tried.

Claire Joanne Huxham’s fiction has appeared in places like Monkeybicycle, Necessary Fiction and Metazen. She lives just outside Bristol (UK) and teaches English at a local college. She can be found online at

My fiction generally develops from a key line (often the first or last) and this piece was no different.  That initial sentence was stuck in my head for days until I got it down.  I also wanted to write from a perspective and create a voice far from my own.  I've always enjoyed reading fiction with a narrator who can be hard to completely empathize with, and I wanted to explore such a character here in this writing. 



Copyright 2009