The picture prompt is on loan from Michelle Terry. Many thanks and good luck to the scribblers.
A thousand nightmares and endless councillors later… I faced the elephant in the room, or maybe it was the room in the elephant.
Mum’s eyes were huge and I remember thinking that it would be awful if they popped right out. I am not sure how old I was back then when she tied a tea towel around my face. But I can recall it clearly, It had white lettering across a blue band on a pure white unstained cloth, I remember it hanging in the kitchen but never used, it was special, a for looking at cloth. So I couldn’t see and with my legs straddling her hip, she clutched me tight as the cold air made me shiver. There was a frantic juggling of my bones as she ran for what felt like hours; maybe in circles. Eventually, she stopped and whispered, ‘I have to hide you to make you safe’, I couldn’t stop my teeth from tapping but I thought if she took the cloth off she wouldn’t have left me. I know, she would have seen ‘my scared’ and taken me back home.’My scared’ as I remember calling it, was the way I felt and it was huge that day when she said, ‘best not to make a noise’ she didn’t sound like Mum, her voice was cracked and growling. As she lowered me to the floor I felt my legs get warm and wet which made her dig her nails in the tops of my arms her breath was damp on my cheek as she snarled “Filthy bitch’. I heard the door close, rattle and a click. Some memories are precise almost intricate, while others are feelings, like wisps of smoke I can’t hold on to.
As clear as day I remember how my belly ached, my throat burned and my tongue had stuck to my own mouth before she returned. Many dark visits with no words followed, I had noticed her hair became matted and often covered her face, she would push a cup across the floor and quickly she left. I learned to do my toilet in the farthest corner of my room but after five or so cups of lukewarm soup or oats my waste travelled across the mud floor; eventually covering me. My hair got stiff, I scratched my head until it bled and scabbed…I had sores on my sores.
I can’t, doctors say, (or I refuse) to remember much more; until the end. I told them how It was never day or night just dark and dank. It sometimes would just come, a memory that is, swooping from nowhere. One such memory was how I once I grabbed her, I tried to kiss her, how she screamed and punched me, my chest hurt as my back made contact with the wall. A long time passed maybe weeks, I couldn’t tell, but when she returned, my stomach hurt so much that I couldn’t crawl to my dirt corner or lift my head. Mother, I stopped thinking of her as that a long time before, but on that visit, I thought she had come back to me. I had awoken to a damp warm cloth scrubbing my face, then she spoiled it. She pulled my lids apart stared at me, her face crumpled as she swore, and phlegm hit my full in the face before she left. I thought at the time she didn’t want me to look back. Later, a tin mug of thin soup and a huge crust of bread was put through the door. I opened one of my eyes; the other was stuck and didn’t want to, I saw her dirty bony hand bring them in, just her hand as she pushed them across the soiled floor, but couldn’t move, so never ate them.
Now fourteen years on my fully grown up self, on my twenty-first birthday, I am a stronger woman, a woman who mostly dreams of the arms of the paramedic who came to my Mothers aid, who found more than expected, who undoubtedly was my knight in shining armour.
I return to my prison to face what went before. Bile fills my throat, my eyes begin to involuntarily leak and I vomit behind the swing frame over and over. In the garden, I scan the scene and wonder who if anyone played there while I was away with ‘My scared’ in that place. What shocks me most is the proximity to the house, she would have seen my room from the back door, could have stopped ‘my scared’ in a second… had she been well enough.
I enjoyed the prompt and felt a snapshot was enough but I may return to this for a bigger project at a later date.Did you feel her fear? Did I help you visualise her surroundings? Leave me a comment I will reply as soon as I can.