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#ShortStories Llanito Category Winner Sophie Macdonald with ‘Norfolk Square’

Tanto de mi vida has revolved around la salud de mi madre, even if, as a child, no me di muchísima cuenta. Solo tenia siete años, pero me acuerdo que, esa ves en Londres, mi padre me compró el video tape del Ice Princess, y, en St David’s Hotel, me, mi padre, y mi hermana lo miramos juntos en cama. Me acuerdo que mi mama y grampita, que venían con nosotros, would secretly stash tissue paper and tea bags into their suitcases, tu sabes, por si a caso.

I remember having to march to their room upstairs and ask them por un tea bag para el té de mi madre.

I remember marvelling at The Lion King pamphlets at reception con mi hermana, que no queria bajar a breakfast por que su dance teacher happened to be staying at the same hotel as us, y le daba miedo de ella. Tambien me acuerdo del fish tank gigante in the St Mary’s Hospital waiting room, as we waited to be told que el check up de mi madre had gone well and her cancer hadn’t come back.

For me, London era adonde yo podia ir a Woolworths para compra un pick n’ mix grande and where I would stand mesmerised by impressive lions at Trafalgar Square.

Pero, para mi madre, London was a reminder; there was no crevice of Paddington left untouched by her past. Nunca había pensao de mi madre como paciente; estaba malita ante que yo nací, and, despite being told she would not be able to have children, here I am. I had never had to see Paddington her way. But, in a sense, for me, there was still always a duality to Paddington.

Por un lao, es adonde esta Calpe House, adonde lo paciente tienen que ir, pero también es adonde mi madre tenía que ir y, en mi mente, ella no era paciente. We stayed at St David’s: we were on the safe side of Norfolk Square. Sure, she had to go for check ups pero she was better now and the worst always seemed inconceivable.

Deep down, though, I knew we weren’t just in London for fun. Yo sabía que el Fountains Abbey, adonde mi grampita me llevaba para chips con gravy no era su favourite pub solo por que le gustaba; era adonde el se podia esconder de los males. Paddington era adonde el mundo de mi mama, tan chiquitita como es, was made even smaller. It was where mi padre had to hold up the fort.

But, for me, it was where I had watched the Ice Princess, my new favourite film, and I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my friends about it. En mi casa en el Calpe en Gibraltar, la enfermedad de mi madre seemed intangible — it was only when we had to get on a plane that things became muddled.

Además de lo ghosts I was convinced it was haunted by, my house was a haven. Era adonde we made up stories with my mum, and where, as the eldest, I got to have secret ‘habla habla’ time with her after mi hermanita se quedaba dormia.

Our walls were yellow and warm, and our ceilings glistened with el reflection del mar. Our walls, turned amber by the sun, were stained with burgundy shadows that crept in through lo shutters colorao, and my sister and I would make shadow puppets with our fingers on them. It was where tea time meant queso duro con crackers en frente del television, watching Hannah Montana.

Después de cantar todas las canciones de la Hannah, íbamos al patio a jugar la escuela, allí del statue de la Virgin Mary, por que nada podía asustar mi hermana into learning her timetables como la cara de la Virgin Mary, with her turquoise robe draped in the foliage that fell del monte and grew around her. It was also where mi madre y mi tia would set up fishing en el corridor, con un makeshift fishing rod made from el palo de la escobar y el gancho de una percha.

Pescamo lo prizes del suelo, and, to my mum’s dismay, lo prizes de mi tia would always involve the glitter that would inevitably permeate the paving of our marble floors for months to come. It was nothing like Norfolk Square, devoid of colour and deprived of the sea: where the windows were bare, unprotected by lo shutters colorao that let in patterns of light.

Gracia a dios, our yearly visits stopped after my mum was officially cleared. Even though lo peó paso ante que yo nací, remnants seeped through my childhood and were always buried in my parents’ eyes. I wasn’t old enough to realise it then, but, living in London at twenty-one, the same age that she was cuando ella estaba malita, would make these glimpses of my childhood inextricable from my time here now.

Claro, London is different now. The lions at Trafalgar Square don’t seem so huge and intimidating anymore, and Woolworths went into liquidation. But my mum still makes me crackers de queso duro and now I go to cheers my family at the Fountains Abbey.

Ahora, I realise how much of my childhood hinged upon la fuerza de mis padres; how their strength meant the stories I would tell my friends about London when I got home solamente involved bolillas, películas, y que loca estaba mi mama por traer tissue paper en su maleta cuando el hotel obviamente habia tener bastante papel.

Adjudicators Comments:
‘An emotional exploration of the trials so many people in Gibraltar have gone through, not only having to deal with a serious illness but having to uproot to London for treatment. It is wonderful to see aspects of Gibraltar culture such as Calpe House being put into short stories, despite the difficult subject matter. This story does not shy away from discussing the effects this travel has not only on the person who is ill but on their family. The use of Llanito adds a warm aspect to the confident prose, summed up in a narrative that is global in its study of family, but singularly Llanito in its form, language and experience.’

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