I know now that the hill that squats behind our house is a giant heap of dark discarded rubble. As a child, I thought it was ancient rock and soil like other mountains. I never questioned why there were no trees or grass, or why we lived in permanent shade. Sometimes I hear it creaking. Scurries of loose debris bounce down. I’ve always stayed quiet and still as you taught me, without knowing why.
Over the years, I watched lorries labour up the side of the unstable mound. I never saw them coming. You said they weren’t there. I dared not yell at them as they teetered, depositing the load. There was no point shouting as they drove away. You shushed my bewildered despair.
Now, I wish I’d spoken up, turned the lorries back. I have learned to live in hindsight. I only know what I should have done or said when it’s too late. I am too frightened to climb the perilous mass to remove material from the top. I cannot shovel it from the bottom. It will kill me in the attempt.
My kids have moved out. I never taught them to shout, to stop lorries. My heart crushes with remorse. They are learning now, away from me. I’m glad and sad.
You still live here. I’ve done my best to build you a shelter. You wouldn’t and couldn’t move, convinced it’s a harmless hill. I leave the door open. I hope for, but don’t expect, change.
I move to a distance, shuddering with terror. It’s time. I raise my voice, broken and scared but strengthening until I am roaring, shouting, screaming. Cracks and rumbles build to thunderous collapse, the sky obscured.
I stand my ground until it is over, in shock. The dust swirls and tomorrow beckons.
Sarah Dale is a psychologist and writer living in Nottingham. She completed an MA in creative writing from Birkbeck university in 2019. She can be found on Twitter @creatingfocus
Image via Pixabay