Roots | Clara Fidler-Brown

It used to be different.


Clara Fidler-Brown

Avocado With Interest Award


Deterioration permeates the dust, one that contains a distinctive charcoal hue, it’s fragility crumbling over the barricaded entrance of the derelict coal mine. A withered hand brushes this soot; a hand composed of profound lines defined by age, yet the faintest touch of a callus quality – the hands of a tradesman.

Glancing up, the old man views the desolate remains of the mine that still dwell here, an intricate network of infrastructure, with interlocking railings undeniably complex in nature; familiar to his mind. Systems of production conjoined by rigs and quarries and loss. Infestations of physical deterioration. Cracks. Rust fracturing a landscape of utter abandonment. Exuding from the metallic structure: a silent, writhing pain that binds this mine to its hallucinatory memories of voices, conversations, resonating with tangible masculinity, existing in a place with gratifying risk and expressive defiance.

Few remain. Those that remember the mines leave nothing but scattered ashes or discordant stones ground into the earth, carved with forgotten names in a futile and final scarring piece of history.
The old man, George Leigh, wondered of his own stone, his own ashes that one day would be reduced to a dust now finer than the soot that stained his arthritic fingers, fractionally shaking at the nipping temperature and sickening pressure of remembrance bound his chest-

“Hey, Alf!” George called, splintering the silence that was interspersed with restless leaves and groans of instability from the mine’s structure.

The splinters fractured his chest once more, at the memory of Alf, George’s longest companion in mining and in life, a man of wisdom and experience despite his flaws.

It used to be different.
There was vibrancy, and exuberance, a vitality that drove this town.
Now, the skeletal remains.

Now, the history remains.

George waited until darkness came, until the only way that he could follow was the faint glow of the city lights, as they guided him away from the loss, the desperation, towards a life that he could only wish to know.