A Long Way Away

Children in a TB sanatorium (1930s-1950s)

A Long Way Away
by Diane Simmons


Dear Mummy and Daddy

It is realy horrible here. The journey took AGES and AGES and I blubbed and the lady took my pear drops away so I didn’t choke. Visiting is every Sunday (FIVE more days!) Tell Catherine and Susan the Biggles book is wizard. Please bring Buster on Sunday he won’t be very sick if he sits on Susan’s lap. I am allowed the goldfish matron said but only bring him IF YOU THINK THE WATER WON’T SPILL. I am in the very old bit of the building with turretts like a castle. There is a bit called the anex but I haven’t been in there yet. There are 8 boys in my room. Arthur and John are in the beds next to me and. John says I can be his friend if I want. Arthur is horrible. He says I am posh and laughed at me when I said golly gosh matron laughed as well. Can you ask matron when I am coming home. A boy called Peter says he has been in here four years. He said they used to put him outside on the balcony to get fresh air even in the snow. I thought that sounded rather fun but he said it wasn’t. Arthur said a little girl died yesterday. Do you think he is telling fibs she probably died because of the beastly food. I was sick when nurse made me eat rice pudding and matron shouted at me when I said I didn’t like milk. She said I have to a drink a pint a day. Can you tell her I don’t have to. John was awflly impressed when he heard a nurse talk about my lumba puncttere. He said I must have very bad TB. John looks like a skeleton with ginger hair. Matron says she will weigh me once a week and if I get fat I will get home quicker. Please bring a BIG fruit cake like you made at easter and 24 chocolate bars and lots of sweets (any) and ANYTHING in the larder that will get me fat.

love from Freddie X X X X X X X X X X

X extra one for Buster

Diane Simmons has been widely published and placed in numerous competitions. She has helped judged several flash competitions, been a reader for the BSSA and is part of the Flash Festival organising team. Her debut flash collection ‘Finding a Way’ will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in early 2019.  She can be found online at http://dianesimmons.wixsite.com/dianesimmons and on Twitter @scooterwriter.

Image of children in a tuberculosis sanatorium courtesy of The Finnish Museum of Photography via Wikimedia Commons.  Original photograph thought to be taken between 1930 and 1950.