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Berries

Joanna Pinto is a writer of short stories, plays, and interactive fiction. She is also a software engineer. She lives in Bristol, England, with her husband and son. More of her writing can be found at joannapintowriter.wordpress.com.

The blackberries grow over the graves in the sailors' graveyard. The thick bushes wrap around stone anchors and granite coiled ropes, the leaves obscuring the dedications in English, Latin, and Norwegian.
Children gather the berries and take them home to be baked into crumble with apple, buttery and sweet.
In the morning, they tell their parents about their dreams. Of creaking stinking wooden ships and metal ships that creak too but differently, of faraway islands and the meaning of sailors' tattoos. Of the feeling of salt water in blistered hands. Of the pain and hardship but also the freedom, except for those whose freedom is owned by other men.
Their parents laugh at the funny things that children come out with.
The berries glisten in the graveyard, fat and nourished where the bones of the sailors sleep.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 17th, 2021


Author Comments

This story was inspired by Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England. It's a Victorian graveyard and nature reserve in the south of the city, and local residents use it as a green space for walks and meet-ups. Visiting older parts of the cemetery, and watching toddlers climb over headstones and graves to pick ripe berries in the sunshine, gave me the idea for this story.

- Joanna Pinto
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