(This is the first part of a short story I am working on – part II to follow).
A Second Bedroom
She dreams herself into a little tiger print box that once held some cheap underwear.
The box swims in something creamy, and black.
She does not sleep but thinks of simple things:
Her daughters hair, her Father’s profession
carved into the heavy wood of her mind like
A Native American talisman:
relics from another incarnation.
A crude bowler hat for a banker’s head,
Hello yellow strips of hair attached to an
Antique hand mirror her mother had passed down.
They reel down.
Then it is the morning, bright, and full of white lights and screeching kettles. Every surface in her kitchen seems to glare at her, making her wince as coffee steams her chin. Whistles, shoes, paper, rubber, plastic school coats, these are the sounds that she might bruise her skin. It is the sensation of life hitting her, over and over with inescapable urgency, like pregnancy contractions. She cannot stop the cruel winding of wheels, cogs, cars, bells, all these things that make it all happen. The continuance of it is making her sick.
She watches her children with dismay, and ugly fear crawls into her throat. Like demented plants, she imagines them growing in front of her, bursting buttons off their uniforms and climbing out towards her with palms outstretched;
Needing things, wanting things,
Needing and Needing and Needing.
She cannot stop them growing, cannot stop their organs pumping blood into their brains and muscles. She imagines she can see the cells in their skin multiplying and swarming right there, that morning. Wildly, she thinks she must sterilise everything they touch. She cannot bear it, and needs it to stop.
Stop That Right Now.
Then there are dishes, and the smell of a dishcloth that has been stewing in greasy suds, and the redness behind her eyes that is deepening into a wine glaze. Nothing will ever be clean. She tries not to think of the years she has lost in the bags of vacuum cleaners and fluff of feather dusters.
She finds herself lying on the bed that her husband sleeps in, trying to regain a central quietness. His smell is in her nostrils and his soft skin cells under her nails. But the scent of the pillow seems cold to her, the dent set and not freshly made.
Blue, green, grey, Brown,
She does not remember the colour of his eyes.
But the day is roaring at her, so that she almost wants to tell the furniture to shut up! He hasn’t dusted in here like he promised, and she can see prickles of dark hair on the bedside table where he must have dry shaved in a rush.
Millimetres of his face are attached to each strand,
He is chopped up all over the surface.