Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Four minutes and thirty nine seconds

That’s enough. That’s enough time for me to find her. To let my eyes brush over every other person waiting by the conveyor belts, desperation washing over their faces with each passing minute. I find her by the benches, but she isn’t sat in the one empty spot. Her hands are clasped around her book but it isn’t open, she isn’t reading. She is waiting. Her cheeks are rosier than they ever had been and her lips seem lonely. My sprint turns into a wander as I embrace her, resting my nose in her hair. It still smelt like apples.

That’s enough. That’s enough time for her final words. “Just keep working hard, okay? That’s what will get you places. Make me proud.” That’s enough time for the heart monitor to find one low drone and hum it through for the rest of the night. The machines start to beep and red lights flash, slicing across my face, slicing through my heart. The tears don’t come, not yet. Her pale, wrinkled body drowns in the white sheets. They ask me to stand up while they pull the bed away. I can’t stand up. I can’t move. I can’t leave her; I can’t let the strongest woman I ever knew see me as weak. I can’t walk away from my grandmother.


That’s enough. That’s enough time for me to fall in love. I hold him in my arms and I understand that, for the first time, our family will feel whole again. His mouth stays open and his wails echo around the room but the tears never come. He isn’t crying because he’s hungry, or because he needs to be in his new mother’s arms, he’s screaming out to the world, “I’m here”, he’s making himself known, he’s begun the incredible journey of his life and he’s building it up any way he can. And I stroke his forehead, not telling him to be quiet, because I want my brother to know that I will be there – with him. Whenever he needs me. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014


I watched him beat my brother. Watched his fist sink into his stomach, watched the agony strike across my brother’s face. I heard the yelling, so close, yet so distant somehow. Useless, embarrassment, idiot, words I’d heard being said of my brother too many times. His eyes were bloodshot and blurred, the way a traffic light would look to an intoxicated driver. My father’s face was crimson, his breathing heavy. He clung onto my brother’s shirt and pressed him up against the living room wall, next to the rips and tears in the wallpaper, memories of previous fights. Blood stained the side of the carpet. When people came over, we’d lie and say it was red wine. I was sick of all the lies. Dad kicked back the sofa to get even closer. I sat on the armchair across the room, helpless. My mouth opened and I tried to force the word out. Stop. That’s all it took. But I couldn’t say it. It wouldn’t come.

“Get out of my house! Get out and don’t come back, you hear me?” As he pushed him through the door, my brother’s jacket caught on the side of the mantelpiece. Bad move. A glass vase toppled to the floor, shattering into a hundred tiny pieces, just like my family, just like my heart. My brother turned as if he were about to apologise, but instead he smirked, a mysterious twinkle in his eyes. And, with that, he rounded the corner and thrust open the door. The house shook as he slammed it behind him. His shadow faded from behind the pale beige curtains. He was gone. He didn’t even look back, no sympathetic look, no it’ll be alright. Things were different this time. He didn’t even say goodbye.

“Molly, have you done your homework darling?” Dad stroked my hair with his faded red palm. I could only nod. “Good girl, go study for next week’s test then. We want to make sure you’re first in the class. Make me proud, alright kiddo?” I nodded again.