the mural on 2

The Mural on the Playroom Wall by

Jinny is painting a mural on the playroom wall, wearing big workmen’s dungarees to cover the baby bump.


‘I’m too old for a playroom,’ Sophie says. Sophie is all legs and a sharp, pale face with an expression too knowing for its own good.


‘It isn’t for you,’ Jinny says. ‘You should be out with friends, or studying or something.’


They both know Sophie hasn’t made any friends. The village kids think she’s too posh, with her long vowels and her massive house and her horrifyingly old, scandalously pregnant, single mother.


‘It doesn’t even look like here,’ Sophie says, jerking her chin at the painting. ‘And you haven’t put any people in.’


Jinny sighs. She cradles her enormous stomach with both arms. 


‘I’m going to get some water, sweetheart. Do you want some?’


‘No.’ Sophie presses her forehead to the window. Hormones, Jinny thinks. God knows, there’s plenty flying around.


Jinny doesn’t get back to the playroom until the next day. She wants to add a rainbow. She knows her work is amateurish and she could have paid someone, but she likes the way she’s captured their new home. 


The baby kicks and Jinny pauses, hand on stomach. It’s then she sees the additions to the mural. In the upstairs window of the house, a pink blob haloed with yellow. Sophie, where she looked out yesterday. Sweet. What else has Sophie done? Sybil the cat, on the gravel path. Boris the dog, under a tree. A pram by the front door. Jinny smiles.


‘I love the painting, darling,’ she calls down the stairs. She doesn’t spot the two crimson-splattered bodies, one large, one very small, daubed crudely in the shade of the woods and by the time someone does notice, it is, of course, far too late.



Jackie’s stories have been published in the National Flash Fiction Day’s 2022 anthology, been shortlisted by Retreat West (July 2022) and longlisted by Lucent Dreaming (2022)


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash



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