Picking Up the PiecesBy: Jo Worgan
The air feels different here, fresher somehow. I inhale deeply and allow the salty air to fill my lungs, to invigorate me. This must work, there is no turning back now. I walk along the promenade, placing my hands protectively around the small bump that is strapped to my chest.
I can feel the baby’s rhymical breathing, his warm breath on my cheek. He is fast asleep, rocked by the melodic movement of walking. I double-check the straps once again, making sure that he is safe and secure. He will come to no harm here.
The smell of fish and chips fills the air, making my mouth water. When was the last time I ate chips from a tray on a bench? Years? It must be.
Memories swirl around inside my head. Snapshots taken from another place in time. My gran, sitting beside me, a printed headscarf tied tightly around her head, crimson lipstick and a mischievous smile, as she sat and licked the salt from her fingers. Her happiness reflected on my own face. We had sat on a bench, greedily devouring a bag of chips between us from the unfurled newspaper covered in grease. It wasn’t quite the same, eating your chips from a plastic tray.
I glance into the steam-filled air of the chip shop; there is only one person stood there, chatting to the man behind the counter, awaiting her order. I walk in. A tray of chips and a takeout coffee will be lovely. I’ll have time before he wakes up. He is such a good baby, no trouble at all, and I need to sit and rest for a little while. I shall watch the boats as they sail past.
I wonder where they are heading? Who will be waiting for them on the shore? Or are they returning to a cold and empty home?
I will absorb the serenity, the peace.
It will make me whole again.
I will be reborn.
Part One: Now
Part Two: The Truth
Part Three: The Idea
About the Author
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH, 2013
The alarm had long been silenced. Kate Sullivan lay still and listened; she listened for the sound of soft footsteps that would softly pad across the laminate boards of the bedroom floor next to hers. She listened for the inevitable creak that would sound from the opening of the bedroom door. Poking his head around the doorframe would be the sleepy image of her beautiful six-year-old son, a tangled mess of sleep encrusted eyes and messy blonde curls, as he bounced onto her bed. As usual, he would snuggle up under the covers with his thin arms wrapped around her body. Morning Sam, she would say, her voice thick with sleep. But all was quiet now; he had not yet stirred. She had another fifteen minutes of peace and quiet. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the silence.
The slow creak of his bedroom door alerted her to his presence. A shaft of light appeared on the landing, seen through the slit of her bedroom door that was not quite closed. She never closed the bedroom door; she slept with one eye open, ever alert. The door wobbled slightly on its hinges as it was flung open. Sam jumped onto the bed and over Kate, burrowing himself under the embroidered flowery quilt, bought as a bargain charity shop find, and then pressed himself into the small of her back. He relaxed. Kate inhaled his little boy smell; the shampoo from last night’s shower clung to his skin. She ruffled his soft hair. His leg flung carelessly over hers. Her chest tightened, filled with the mixture of emotions that were love, fear, guilt and joy for this little boy. This little boy that was hers. She squeezed her eyes shut, savouring the precious moment, fearing it could be taken from her at any moment.
‘Morning Sam,’ she mumbled into the pillow.
Their day had just begun.
The stairs creaked one by one as they descended them, not quite warmed up by the morning sun that streaked through the crack in the hallway curtains. The carpet was blue, faded, marked with muddy patches and years of wear and tear, the edges frayed. Kate led Sam into the living room, and quickly found his iPad. He firmly plonked himself down onto the worn brown leather couch, right at the end, where he could squish himself into the armrest. An indent showed that this was his favourite seat. The screen flickered to life, fully charged. Kate sat down next to him and wondered what app he would open. The theme tune from his ABC app rang out loudly from the speaker, filling the room with life. Sam stared at the screen, the light illuminating his face, completely immersed.