chapter i - mummy
how it began (in her words)
In the darkness of the kitchen the only illumination comes from the soft, caramel glow of the fridge light. The protrusion of my stomach lightly holding the door open to release the wry smell of an open can of tuna clambering up my nostrils as I finger lazily through a packet of cheese slices. I unwrap a limp, solitary square and stare at it for a moment, allowing the cool processed square to begin to warm between my thumb and forefinger before crumpling it into the corner of my cheek. I scrape off the remnants with my front teeth, cleaning them away with my tongue. As the yellow globule of salty preservatives sticks and unsticks itself down my throat I take a step back, allowing the fridge door to slowly glide back into place.
As a murky darkness engulfs the spot where I’m stood I take a step over to the sink and rest my hands against the worktop. Gazing out through the window above I can see how clear and beautiful the night is, a slight breeze spreading a myriad of vibrant autumn leaves through the air. The red, golds, oranges and browns, plastering a mosaic across the landscape outside. It’s during this moment of quiet bliss I check out my blurred reflection in the window. My long, unbrushed auburn hair falling over my shapeless shoulders. My body, weightier than it used to be.
A noise from the other room drags my attention away. Clarence must be back from work early. He had better not wake Emily again. The hairs on my arms stand up at the thought of another sleepless night of having a 5 year old wedged in between us for only god knows how long. I traipse through to the living room, only when I get there I come up face to face with a man. He’s not my husband though. He’s definitely not my husband.
I stagger back a step, then another, then fall to a seated position on the newly-laid carpet beneath. My hands launch behind me to stop me collapsing on to my back.
I try to let out a scream but it’s dampened by the terror welling up through me.
I hear a pop. Then my waters break.
Most of the liquid seeps into the thick shag carpet turning the cream colour a turgid grey. The volume of it means that it still manages to seep under the souls of my feet and creep back towards the palms of my hands. My gaze jolts down for a second to take in my somewhat more damp surroundings. My naked, unshaven legs are clammy and my underwear, with more than adequate coverage, is soaked through.
My eyes dart back up to the heaving figure towering in the doorway. Open-mouthed, I work my way from the rusty crowbar jutting out from one of his black gloved fists, past his dirty blue Levi's and greying Sonic Youth t-shirt, up to his twitching, cavernous grimace.
Is this beast actually horrified of what I’ve just done?
The grimace etched on his face is quickly removed and replaced with a scowl. This looked more ‘him’. My body tenses as he begins to move towards me. One of my hands flinches and shakes as I steadily try to move my body backwards, towards the kitchen and away from this intruder.
In his other hand he’s holding a small container, like one of those little black plastic camera film holders. Using his thumb he levers the top off and tips whatever’s inside into his mouth before discarding the empty tube onto the floor.
I’m still trying to shift myself backwards with every ounce of strength I can. Wishing my body to work, to kick back into action.
“Come on!” I barely manage to squeak out to myself in an exasperated breath. My fingers digging into the carpet ripping out tiny tufts as I inch further back but my feet keep skidding around in the puddle I’ve just created in front of me.
My life is not flashing before my eyes.
My hands and feet continue to skid around more and more. I keep thinking about Emily, I must get to her; and Clarence, I’m willing him to return, to call my name.
My baby, shit. I’m going into labour aren’t I...
This man, this intruder, this bad dream. He just keeps inching closer towards me. I look up at him as I try to gauge what the hell he wants or what in Christ’s name he’s about to do.
My limp eyelashes shake off some tears, dusting the salty moisture across the tops of my cheeks.
My hand fires backwards further than before and hits cool ground. Kitchen lino. That’s progress I guess. A minor miracle.