This is love.
A quiet Sunday morning in the kitchen. She and I. Not too early, not very late. Outside summer reigns and the sun comes in through the door that leads out to the garden. I left it open when I came back in. I was in the shed out in the back for an hour before she woke up. Or maybe she was awake, but just stayed in bed listening to me working in the shed before she got up. I know sometimes she likes to stay there under the covers, eyes half-closed, lingering between sleep and not-sleep, trying to recall a dream.
I don’t know what she dreams about, because she doesn’t like to tell me. But I think they are beautiful dreams, full of colour and music. Dreamscapes, where you float above everything, observing and seeing, but not being part of anything.
She is standing at the kitchen counter making breakfast. For herself, not for me. She never makes breakfast for me, because she says I am a grown man and I can make my own food if I want it. I make breakfast for her, sometimes. This morning I made coffee, which I’m drinking here at the table.
The sun comes in through the door and throws a golden rectangle on the floor. If you step into it, you can feel the warmth against the soles of your feet. It’s a bit like walking on the beach, toes sinking down into the sand, the sound of the ocean in your ears, water lapping at your heels as you run, run, run after laughing sisters, barelegged girls in their summer dresses skidding down the dunes with ease, with abandon, with their hair in the wind, running after each other, tumbling out of breath, down onto a towel, behind a parasol, underneath the sun.
She is standing at the kitchen counter not making breakfast for me as I drink my coffee. She doesn’t like coffee, she says. She likes the smell of coffee, but not the taste. Sometimes she drinks it anyway, with lots of milk in it, so that it is more like milk with coffee than the other way around. I drink mine black.
It’s her birthday. Later I am going to show her what I’ve been working on in the shed.
We used to have a shed in the back garden when I was a child. I would hide there. No, not hide. I would go there when the house was too loud and busy, which was quite often, because we were a loud and busy family. There were so many of us. There was Mam and Dad, then Bethan, my oldest sister, and Gwen, two years older than me, then myself, in the middle, and Megan, two years younger than me and finally Ffion, 6 years younger. There had been another boy, born between Megan and Ffion. I think it was a boy. I don’t really remember. I think they named him Iwan. He was stillborn. There is a grave somewhere back home, but I never visit it. Dad used to visit it a lot before, but now he never goes there even for Mam’s day.
I found her. Mam. I found her in the kitchen one day when I got home from rugby practise. I don’t know why there wasn’t anyone else at home that day, especially given that the house was always full of people. It struck me as odd that at that one moment there was only me, and Mam. It was as if she wanted me to find her.
I found her on the floor by the sink. She was lying on her side, arms stretched out, legs slightly bent, as if she had just taken a nap, right there on the kitchen floor. Except, there was a trickle of blood from her mouth that had formed a small puddle under her cheek.
I remember that the water was still running in the sink, because she had been doing the dishes. A clean, wet fork lay on the floor beside her. To turn the tap off I had to step over her. I was careful not to touch her as I did this, because the thought of touching her, even with tip of my shoe, suddenly seemed revolting to me. I could see it was her, her body there on the floor, but it wasn’t her. So I stepped over the body that wasn’t her anymore and turned the tap off. Now the kitchen was silent and I stood there staring at her lying on the floor, unmoving. Outside life continued: pili-pala butterflies fluttered in the wind, a dog barked endlessly at imagined dangers and the grass did not stop growing. I bent down to look at her face, which was completely motionless. Her eye-lids were only half-closed, but I couldn’t see the pupils behind them. As I leaned in closer I could feel the faint smell of piss and I remembered reading that when you die all the muscles in your body relax, which causes you to release any faeces or urine left inside you.