Contributor: Victoria Slotover

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I feel like Chicken Licken waiting for the sky to fall down; the unsayable unsaid is heavy in the air about to plummet.

They’ve been busying me into forgetting, or at least trying to. We’ve fed the ducks, been to the shops, baked cakes, but I know it could crash down on my head at any minute and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it. I hold my breath all day waiting for it to happen, a part of me
wishes it would just so I can stop wondering when it will, but that’s only a tiny part, and at night however much I beg sleep to come and take the worry away, it’s my dreams that stay away instead.

There’s an empty space on my cheek where her kiss should be and I touch my fingers to it as I listen to Grandma and Grandpa shuffling about, going to the bathroom, going to bed. Sometimes I hear one of them get up in the night and boil the kettle. They seem to do that a lot. Boil the kettle. It must be magic or something because it seems to help them stay awake, and get to sleep. I wish I had a magic kettle, then maybe I’d be able to change things, to make everything alright again, to make her

I finally fall asleep dreaming of magic and her and for a brief moment when I open my eyes the spell is intact but then I remember and it breaks. I hear Grandma in the kitchen making tea. Why does it work for her and not for me?

They’ve tried to talk to me, looking at each other not sure who should go first. It’s usually Grandpa. ‘Your mother,’ he says. I run from the room to the bed I can’t sleep in and let go of my tears. For a while as I listen to the sounds of my sobs I stop hearing the thud of my thoughts.

Daddy hasn’t been to see me. He’s been with her. He calls Grandma and Grandpa every evening with updates. That’s what grown-ups call, news. Not the sort of news we write in our weekend diaries at school. That’s good news. This isn’t. This news normally makes the person listening say things like, ‘Ah, I see’ rather than, ‘Oh, how lovely’. He’s tried to speak to me but I won’t listen, I don’t want to hear his news. So each time Grandma tries to pass me the phone I clamp my hands over my ears
and scream.

Daddy hasn’t phoned this evening. I stir the bath bubbles and wonder if no news is better than bad news. I hear Grandpa open the door and then two under water voices in the hall. Getting closer. I cover my ears and start to shriek as Daddy opens the door to tell me that my mother’s dead, but he gets it wrong and says over and over again until I can’t help hearing- I have a new baby brother.

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I write fiction for Mumsense Magazine, and my short stories have been published on The Writer’s Hub and the Short Fiction Collective as well as in the Ham & High. They have been accepted for publication by Smashed Cat Magazine, Bartleby Snopes and Families Magazine.
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