Mother’s face blanches as the lightning cracks.
Raindrops are hurled like handfuls of tiny stones, the plate glass stopping them short of assaulting her face. Her eyes are as dead as lizards’.
‘Rain,’ she says.
My back is to the window. I know the rain. How it turns a flimsy shirt to second skin, sagging and pinching, twisting and chafing. Clasping the cold.
I know the garden hedge, too – that hollow, where, hunched in the dark, eagles’ talons gripped my shoulders and bats became entangled in my hair. I know the dank smell of drenched earth, which wheedled its way into my nostrils like burrowing worms, and I know the clag of wet socks over crimped skin.
‘Yes, rain,’ I say, hearing the arrhythmic percussion, that familiar coded warning.
I insert the spoon into her gaping mouth and clamp it shut.
Her tongue kneads the potato which oozes like toothpaste from a damaged tube; it lands in an island on her dress.
She jumps at a bellow of thunder, and settles immediately like a billowed sheet.
I turn to open the French doors and watch her staring reflection flip away, replaced by dark space.
She takes the brunt of the lashing rain as I push her wheelchair out into the garden.
I run quickly into the warmth and shut the door, watching as her skull appears through strings of white hair, and her dress becomes dark.
‘That’s what happens to naughty girls who spill their food,’ I say.
HELEN LAYCOCK’s short stories, flash and poetry appear in a variety of anthologies and magazines. She has been a lead writer at Visual Verse, has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit and recent work has appeared in Popshot, The Caterpillar, Poems for Grenfell and Full Moon and Foxglove. She also writes children’s books.
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