|She was crying again. I could hear her sobs, first muffled by the hands she was holding to her face, trying to soften her sorrow so we couldn’t hear. Then I heard her shudder, deep shivers that were plunging down to her very soul but that her soul was bouncing back up to her throat. The very place her sorrow was formed betrayed her by refusing to harbour it there, squeezing it through her physical being until it flowed in full force from her mouth and eyes and into the real world; her room, her house. Our house.
I stood with my arms wrapped around me, head held low as I leant against her door, frightened and helpless. Staring hard at the floor, I imagined my arm letting go of its opposite and reaching forward. I imagined my hand grasping the door handle and slowly, silently pushing the door open, so as not to disturb her. I imagined moving cautiously across the carpet, turning at the corner of the wardrobe and then finally, towards her. I imagined how I would crawl, unnoticed into his side of the bed, pulling the duvet around me like a child, (for that’s what I was: her child) and curling around her like an embryo, hugging her with my whole body, yet utterly invisible. Comforting her without confronting her. Physically invisible to her yet evidently there.
She was doubled over now. I could picture her from the other side of the door. She was spluttering, with spittle hanging from both sides of her mouth, and her face like a boil; red and angry and wanting all of the putrid pain inside her to explode into a million droplets and disperse so far away from one another that they would be unable to manifest themselves so entirely and overwhelmingly again. She was straining, wanting to lose control – if only she could lose control – be outside of herself in a thunderclap and disappear from the room, from the house, running until she was broken and rid of this feeling; a feeling so heavy she felt as if she were sodden by every drop of water that had ever tumbled over Niagra's rim.
And it was this thought that she caught a hold of. The thought that she was just a drop of water being carried with the tide, and she swayed first to her left, and then as if she were being pulled by the moon itself, swooned to her right. And then back and forth over and again, towards invisible magnets locked in battle at either side of her room, neither winning for any longer than a couple of seconds. Eventually the magnet on the right side of the room claimed victory and she remained for a long while, hot and damp like a child woken from a nightmare, cheeks aflame and eyes stung raw by their own salty deluge. She let her lids drop and felt the last of her fat tears linger for a moment on her lashes, fresher and cleaner than the rivulets that had flown before and cleansing her thirsty sockets and eyeballs. Finally they lost their grip on their delicate branches and plummeted towards her to cheek, somersaulting over and over until they exploded like acid, burning marks on her now cooling face. Calmly and like a robot devoid of feeling, she pulled the duvet close around her and crashed down to her left onto the undisturbed pillows whose comfort was to soak up the wetness from her face. Her final effort was to banish the painful light from her lamp and let the darkness close the scene of her sorrow.
I remained on the floor, willing the warmth from the airing cupboard door to reach my aching bones and to stop my own shudders. I stretched my legs out from under my nightdress, which had been stretched tightly over them and tucked under my toes, and lifted my head from knees, turning it to the right and letting my eyes wander into my brother’s room. He was sprawled like a child, for he was one, in the recovery position. His long brown lashes almost curling up over his lids did not flicker as I walked towards him. His gentle wheezing rippled over his deep breaths which told me he had not been disturbed. I turned back to his door and pulled it to behind me. Switching off the landing light, I crawled into my own cold bed and surrounded myself with the duvet, ensuring no wisps of air could reach my already goosepimpled skin. I shivered for a long time waiting for my heartbeat to slow and for my warmth-bringing blood to ooze around the length and breadth of my body. And when it had, I began the long wait for my father to come home.