Leif Sundstrom 2016
The Empty Girl
They were fighting again. I could hear them through the kitchen window creaking in the wind. It’s cold. My hands are cold. I forgot my gloves today. I walk up to the front door and knock. Like magic, the kitchen goes silent. I hear footsteps and then the door opens to reveal a face.
I stand on the doormat, the wind whipping my hair behind me.
“Come in out of the cold”, Mummy said, “Quickly now!”. I walk up and she steps away, she closes the door and then retreats back to the kitchen.
“How are you sweetheart?” Mamma asks.
I hang up my coat and take off my shoes. Mummy is stirring the pot. The clock ticks and the wind wails through the floorboards. I think about what it would be like if
“Good”, I say.
“How was school?” she asks.
I turn away and grimace then retreat to the bathroom. I strip and fill up the bath. Mamma comes in and asks what’s wrong. Then Mummy comes in and says to leave me alone and that I have had a hard day. Mamma just looks at Mummy. Mummy leaves. I say that Mummy is right, and that Mamma should leave me alone. Mamma’s eyes change, and the expression on her face turns over. She just looks at me, then stands. As she turns away from me, I notice she is not wearing my present.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Mamma asks me as she looks at the road. She’s driving me to school today, she didn’t want me to take the bus, “I don’t want you to catch the bus with those kids” she said.
“Talk about what” I say.
“You know” she says.
I thought about yesterday, and the day before that, and what lay in store for me today. I thought about why things were the way they were. As I thought I let my eyes travelled over the passing countryside, mindlessly searching.
“I can’t” I manage to say.
Mamma looks at me.
“None of this is your fault” she says.
“Mummy is just confused about what’s happening at work” she says, “You don’t need to worry, we can sort it out.” She gives me a smile but I see her eyes.
Cold yellow leaves fall, falling, fallen. I feel every step I take. I turn a corner and see the house. The door is wide open. An unwelcome feeling begins in my head and creeps through my body. I stop. Then I start to run. I reach the door and stop. Sitting at the kitchen table reading her book is Mummy.
“Where is Mamma?” I ask.
“She’s in the garden, why are you huffing and puffing?” She pointedly asks me.
I run out the back door and into the garden, searching. I see Mamma cutting the rose bush. I stop. She looks up. Contrasting emotion evident in her eyes even as she smiles. The aching is replaced by heavy fog and I suddenly feel tired and sore.
“Are you ok?” Mamma’s eye’s come to rest on my arm and her expression changes.
I see Mamma’s eyes then turn away. Mamma gets up, brushes off her gardening apron and walks inside. I start to see stars and I feel dizzy. Mamma comes back with Mummy and they hurry to me. I start to fall. I hear something. Someone yells my name. I’m lying on the ground. I can see the sky. It is empty. Dull, grey, empty, empty. Searching, searching. I wonder.