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The Homecoming
Posie Brown

When the Pope closed limbo in April 2007, billions of tiny souls belonging to unbaptised babies were flung out like unwanted kittens.  

Lost and bewildered, they were scattered like blossom on a windy day, no longer able to huddle together swaddled in soft down, sleeping away the centuries, while they dreamt of eternal happiness. Eventually, they found one another again and, in their huge numbers, formed large hazy clouds that cast dark shadows over the land.

Freed from their opiate-induced dreams, these small entities began to feel sadness and love. Yearning for their mothers, they looked for them among the living and the dead, clustering like gnats over the graveyards as well as villages and towns.

Like most of the women, I could sense them and heard their faint cries in the wind. In grey, drizzle-filled light, a group of us climbed the hill to the church to ask for guidance. The priest stood in the stone porch with the eyes of a frightened horse. I noticed he had left the door ajar. Just in case he needed to go back inside. Quickly.

‘Ladies,’ he said, holding his hands out in a practiced placatory gesture. ‘Please calm yourselves.  This decision was made after much theological discussion, and we have been assured the Pope is hopeful that your children will be granted entry into Heaven. I suggest you take time to pray.’

He smiled uneasily as the women began to talk quietly to each other as they watched the babies swimming in the watery air above the church, their forms beginning to take shape. Oblivious, the priest raised his voice.

‘I’m afraid you are all being a little hysterical. I totally understand it given your concerns. The sounds you say you hear are probably birdsong.’ 

I pushed my way to the front, looking into his face while I told him that I’d also heard the babies tapping at my windows and knocking on the walls in their increasingly frantic search. He patted me on the shoulder and said it was probably next door’s television.

‘Go and put your feet up, Margaret. You need to rest at your age.’

I turned my back on him and walked away. Slipping and sliding down the muddy path, I made my way home while soft little hands stroked my face, checking whether I was the one they wanted.

Breathless from climbing the stairs to the attic, I dragged the large wooden chest out from under the eaves. Opening the lid, I gently took out the mitts, the booties and the white woollen shawl that we had wrapped her in for those few hours of life.

Downstairs, I laid them all out as a welcome, together with the little brown rabbit my mother had knitted. With the window open to make things easier for her, the cool night air filled the room while I sat in the armchair to and waited for my daughter to find me.



After a stint as a journalist, Posie spent many years working at a senior level in corporate communications. Her work has been published in the Summer 23 and Winter 23 editions of The Phare. Over the years, she has served on the board of several arts charities and is currently advising Ikenga, a not-for-profit supporting those entering the creative professions from non-traditional backgrounds. She lives in Kent, UK.

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