They wanted her to paint a picture, but she had never painted in her life.
“Just paint what you feel,” the nurse had told her.
She sat and stared at the vivid whiteness of the canvas. She was surrounded by green gardens basking in yellow suns peeping from corners and rainbows stretching and arcing in fluid strokes. But that wouldn’t be her masterpiece. She selected the smallest brush she could find and dipped it in black, scrawling her name in the corner. Her picture painted, her feelings exposed. A blank space amidst a world of sunshine and rainbows.
Warning – explicit content
“I need you,” I whisper. I get right up to your ear, your hair sticking to my lips. “You need me.” You flinch, drawing away from me. I let out a sigh, your blonde hair wavering under the weight of my breath. “I can’t live without you,” and you know I’m right. You know you’re killing me. But still you don’t speak, won’t look at me. I reach out and grab your arm, and you turn to face me. Your hair falls away at either side, you spit on me. “Bitch,” I spit in return, grabbing you around the throat.
As she sat at her till, her dumpy frame pulled at the buttons of her blouse. Her shoulders slouched forward yet shrugged up to her ears at the same time, making her neck non existent. She was almost toad like as she sat waiting for her next customer. At any moment, her tongue would lash out, pulling a straggling loaf of bread to join its comrades on the conveyer belt. No one would notice, she knew she was invisible as she sat there. She sighed as the conveyor piled high, forcing a smile on her face as she went ignored.
It was a long journey to her sisters and she wasn’t sure how Bitsy would cope. She had started to shake, but she always did when it was cold. This was their first time on a bus, having successfully avoided public transport, but it had been inevitable it would come to this. Losing your license often led to that.
She adjusted Bitsy’s red bow. How her sister would scoff, but she’d spent hours choosing it, and even longer trying to get Bitsy to sit still long enough to fasten it in place. 5 buses she had missed in doing so.
They found my scarf tied around the iron railings about a week after he took me. I saw it on the news, back when he let me watch it. I screamed at the TV; screamed until my voice went hoarse. My scarf, it could save me, could lead them to me. But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew instead my mother would be sobbing into it, still after all these years. She would mend the loose threads, sleep with it each night even though it no longer smelled of me. It would become her totem, anchoring her to me.
The weeping was silent, barely a whispered hush as I stood below them. They flanked me on both sides, tall and strong and immovable. Yet as strong as they stood, they wept. First they blushed, crimson and gold blooming from the tendrils they reached skywards. Then as if weighted, as if their colours betrayed them, now standing ashamed as they burned in the low light of the searing sun, the tears of flames fell. They glided, their movement as soft as a lullaby and came to rest on the cold concrete underfoot, a carpet below.
The two arrows inked there on her arm pointed in opposite directions. It was like she didn’t know which way she wanted to go. Or maybe she had already gone both ways – one day heading left to see what was out that way; and not being much to her liking she turned right around and headed the other way, just to see what that had to offer. Now I suppose she’s only got two other ways to go: right on ahead and back the way she came.