I could hear a sound a strange gurgle or bubbling, a gulping slightly swallowing sound. I was hearing the kind of noise, that instinctively you knew would never be forgotten.
It was as an echo a mystical noise. I was hearing the sound of bubbles popping on the surface or gulping quickly without taking a breath.
My mind went back to a child blowing forbidden bubbles a glass of milk and a straw, “just you do! You blow bubbles and you’ll see” said Mother.
I always attempted to do as I was told, I was a good girl.
Trying to be good or at least better than Pearl. Pearl my rebellious sister was always in trouble, I would not provoke that not if I could help it.
Lifting my blue eyes up to mums face. I remember pursing my lips to capture the straw and i blew. A slow gentle perfect breath broke the surface of the milk, a cascading sound of burbling, popping, beautiful bubbles could be heard around the room. My innocent gaze never left her face as I blew. Then It stopped, my air had finished, so I sat and waited for a smile, or congratulatory praise; which I believed was earned.
In that silent moment I watched thunder clouds gather in my mothers eyes, a snarl seemed to be painted where her smile should have been. My beaker was suspended for a breath of time, over my long dark hair. A rumbling noise crowded my ears as she tipped the entire half pint. Her grotesque mouth moved, spreading a thin spray of spit on my face, I sat frozen in the chair as she slapped her palms on the table,
and through barred teeth growled unpleasant words.
Much later sitting in front of the Rayburn alone, with wet hair and sour milk soaking my back; i could think. Having had time to replay the scene in my wet cold little head, I realised too late that I had misread the whole thing. I had not been the good daughter I thought I had been.
Waiting for Dad to come home and wash my hair felt like hours, I didn’t know how long it was It was getting darker outside. As dusk approached a grey gloom seeped through the glass, I sat waiting in the half light. Heat from the Rayburn was souring the milk, my hair became stiff and smelt. I recall needing a pee and was scared that I couldn’t hold it in.
I was six when I last heard that noise, it isn’t a noise you would forget.
I am a woman now and Dad wouldn’t be there to wash and plait my hair. He wouldn’t soothe me and tell me all was fine. There was no logic, no glass of milk that I could
identify as the catalyst. Just the distorted memory of a sound. A sound that would never be forgot.