Asphyxiation

I’m hungry. Where’s mother? Perhaps she can make me some food. I’d love some of the beef and parsnip pie from Christmas, but I don’t think there’s any left of that. Maybe she could make me some toast with that marmalade we got for Elaine’s birthday. Lainie has never looked so beautiful, spring sun shining. Even father said so. The sun does shine too, when we spent most of the day hidden away within our damp basement. A steady tapping sounds on the cold stone floor. Tiny droplets slowly gathering. Will we live to see another night come to an end, to see the sunlight and know that we’ve been spared once more? First morning light, bright in my eyes. My feet are wet, waves break upon the beach. Tom’s clammy hand holding mine, wedding ring presses into my palm, he’s holding on tight and the sun sets, dives into the boisterous sea. Half as Much is in my head. The lyrics line up perfectly, the waves seem to move in tandem with the music. Tom never seems to understand. The music is interrupted. That was a creaking. A creaking noise. How did I get to the flat? It sounds exactly like the creaking from our kitchen door, Tom keeps saying he’ll oil it but he never does. My eyes float into this room, where is Tom? There is a woman. She isn’t Tom. She opens the door further, my door, looks at me with questioning eyes. They’re black eyes, her skin is brown, her hair falls off her head in tiny curls bouncing with every small movement. What does this foreign woman want? Good afternoon, Mrs Aberdeen. Flaring nostrils, teeth are white. She smiles. I was wondering if you’d like something to eat as a light snack? You didn’t eat much at lunch. Perhaps an orange? Or some strawberry yoghurt? You always like that, don’t you? What is this woman doing here? Inside my house? Why is she here? I don’t know her. Perhaps I should yell, Tom will come and help me. Where is Tom? Should I just get her a cup of tea, Rosanne? Black eyes move to another woman, she sits in Tom’s spot. Where did she come from? Yes please, Angela. That’d be lovely. I don’t think we’ll need anything else. Today is not a good day. That look. I know that look. I should know that look. Why that look? Why am I being excluded? Who are they? Where is mother? Where has Elaine gone? She was just here. Did they take her? Father warns us about these people. They will take you. His voice is grim, become rough through the years. They will take you and drown you. I’m not a good swimmer. The Brown One muttered something to the Other One. I am alone with that Other Woman now. She seems familiar. Lily? Is that you? Where is mother? Where did Elaine go? No mum. It’s me, Rosanne, Rosie, your daughter. It isn’t Lily, her eyes are different, not the same shade of blue. Must be her daughter, they grow up so fast. She mistakes me for my sister. How sad. Yes, of course, my dear, I recognise you now. I’ll pretend, for her. It’s never nice to be lost, especially not as a child. Do you know the song Half as Much by a Miss Rosemary Clooney? I’ve had it stuck in my head for what seems like forever. Of course I do, mum. You never stop telling me about how that was the first song you and dad danced to, how he kept stepping on your toes, how they’ve never been the same since, right? She smiles, it’s a very kind smile. I’m a bit tired, dear. Could you tell mother I’ve gone for a nap? I’m sure she won’t mind, I’ve done all my chores for the day. Of course. I’ll just go tell Angela that we don’t need that tea after all. I’ll be back in a bit, all right? A feeling on my hand as she glides by, I see her fingers on a hand. So many folds in the skin, where did they come from?
‘Day may not be as bad as I first thought. She recognised me just now. Will be back in time for a late dinner, think we can still eat those leftovers from Friday night? Btw, do you still have that old record player in the attic? Think mum would like some of that old music. xxx’ She texted to Eric while she walked the long hallway, past the many doors that hid other relics. Her legs ached, she’d been sitting in one place for far too long.
“Hey Angela, tea’s not needed after all, she was busy falling asleep as I left.”
“That’s alright Rosanne, you should have some all the same, you look as exhausted as your mum.”
“Yeah, you might be right about that, my energy keeps disappearing whenever I open the front door to this place. Shite, that sounds rude doesn’t it, I don’t mean because of any of you guys, but, well, you know.”
“I do know, don’t worry honey. Sit down, have some tea. How is she today?”
“Actually, just when I came in I thought we’d be having a phenomenally bad day, she’s been very unresponsive, keeps staring ahead. Lost within her head, I’m guessing. But just now she recognised me. Maybe a nap will do her some good.”
“It’s a lovely day, maybe you could take a wheelchair and go outside for a bit? If she’s feeling up to it?”
“Yeah, maybe.”

Juul Kruse

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