The policeman clears his throat and shifts his feet. Waiting to be invited in.
‘She’s upstairs in her bedroom,’ I say. Confident. Barely a shake to my voice.
She isn’t, of course. But when I lift the pillow to my face, it smells like her. Apples and pine trees and angst. And I could swear there’s still a trace of warmth there, even though the window’s flung wide, the February air rushing in. And the policeman is there in the doorway, not sure where to look.
‘I’m sorry,’ he says.
‘It’s just not possible,’ I tell him, and he shakes his head. He’s used to this, from mothers.
Finally, I follow him outside, and there she is. Sprawled. It looks staged, almost comical. From nowhere, a jet of vomit pours out of me, into the gutter. The policeman catches me before I fall.
When she was two, she would lie like that on the floor, her limbs flung wide. It was a game she liked to play. She was a princess. I had to kiss her to wake her up.
Now, I approach her and no-one stops me. Not when I crouch down, not when I lay beside her on the freezing tarmac, not when I kiss her cheek.
And although the bigger part of me understands that she won’t jump up, the smaller part waits.
Any minute now. Any minute now.
Laura Pearson lives in Leicestershire where she blogs at www.breastcancerandbaby.com, writes novels and flash fiction, and runs around after two small humans.