This short story was written for Josie’s Writing Workshop at Sleep Is For The Weak. This week we were given one word prompts to bounce from. I have chosen ‘Escape’. This is a work in progress, not a polished piece.
Moksha is a Sanskrit word meaning to release or let loose.
The silence after the bang wasn’t an absolute silence. Did you know there are different types of silence? No-one else I know is interested in types of silence. I find them fascinating. If I could catalogue silences, fill shoe boxes with silences, label them and store them in alphabetical order I could open them any time and hear silence.
The silence after the bang was a tree dripping silence, a twig snapping silence, a settling silence. No birds sang, nothing rustled in the verges, everything listened.
I let out my breath slowly and my shoulders relaxed away from my ears. Reluctantly opening my eyes I gazed up at the umbrella of trees and the sunlight, twinkling, caught briefly in the raindrop held by a leaf. I wanted to see a squirrel, she had said there were squirrels but nothing seemed to be moving.
I walked back along the lane towards the car and the sound of my shoes clomping along gave everything else permission to break the silence. I had an urge to tiptoe, to put a finger to my lips and hush everything and then a stronger urge to turn around again and run further, but I couldn’t do that. I had to go back.
I could see my swirling dragon breath coming in little puffs and I stopped. I was still a little way from the car but I could see her. She looked as if she was sleeping but her head was at a funny angle and I knew she couldn’t be comfortable. What was I expected to do? I bit my lip and rubbed my muddy shoes against the backs of my legs. I knew all too well how important it was to have clean shoes. Especially these shoes. She had bought them for me last week and already they were looking scruffy. I had meant to polish them every morning as instructed but somehow there was always something else to do. Her shoes were always shiny. There was one sitting just in front of me by the open car door. It was red and tiny and already too small for me. I never understood how a person so tall could have such small feet or how she could walk in those heels without stumbling or crashing to the floor, but she never did.
I crouched down and picked up the shoe, there was a scratch along one side and it was dripping muddy water. She would be so annoyed. Shoes mattered to her. I tried to wipe it off on my coat but the mud just smudged a bit and the shoe lost some of its vibrant colour. I took another step towards the car, cradling the shoe in my left hand and nibbling the nail on my right hand forefinger. I wasn’t supposed to do that either, but I wasn’t at all sure what I was supposed to do. I looked back along the lane and then forwards past the car. Perhaps I should just wait.
I kept taking sneaky peeks at the car. She didn’t move. After a while I tiptoed closer. If I could just see if she was breathing. I stared hard at the back of her head to see if it was moving at all. I had noticed that people were never still, that even if they were sitting still their bodies moved. Even if they were being really quiet and trying not to be noticed their breathing was still really loud. Even if they were lying under the blankets trying to make themselves really small and flat so they would look like a sheet, like the bed was empty, their breathing still made their body move and gave them away. I put my head on one side and squinted a bit and when I did that it did look as if her head was moving slightly, but when I straightened up and looked through open eyes it wasn’t. I moved a bit closer to see if I could hear her but all I could hear, even when I was quite close, was the ticking of the metal as it cooled down and a strange crunching sound. I wasn’t sure where that was coming from but it sounded like the car was settling down to sleep. I put my hand out to reach for the door handle to open her door, I couldn’t see her face, her hair was covering it. She wouldn’t be happy about that either, her hair was all messy and wet and she had only just been to the hairdressers. The door handle was icy cold and my heart was doing that hammering thing, I took a deep breath and then the silence was shattered by noise.
She went to the hairdressers once a week without fail and had her hair set into the rigid controlled curls which invited so much admiration from friends and family. Once every six weeks she had the hair on her head highlighted and the hair on her body stripped, plucked and burnt away and every day she smiled at her reflection in the mirror and tutted happily at mine. ‘Amelia darling I do wish you would make an effort, how can you make those clothes look so bad?’ I looked down at the expensive well cut trousers she had bought for me which finished about an inch too soon. Our shopping trips were torture. She sailed into shops ahead of me, brushing people out of the way and hoovering up purchases without once asking me what I would actually like to wear. There wasn’t time for me to try things on, it was grab and go and nothing ever fitted because she forgot that I was still growing. She would talk about me but not to me, some of the shop assistants obviously thought there must be something wrong with me because if they did speak to me it would be slowly and in words of no more than two syllables. She was furious when we went into the department store to buy a swimming costume for me and the assistant offered us trunks, ‘She is a GIRL,’ spit flew out of her mouth and landed on the not very clean collar of the unfortunate woman who was serving us. I tried very hard not to giggle which didn’t help matters and she grabbed me painfully by the wrist and removed me from the scene. I had to grow my hair after that which I found very annoying, short hair is so much more practical.
All her friends would smile at me without using their eyes and I would stand or sit there with my mouth clamped shut while she created my life. She would invent things to make me more interesting, to make me fit her, taking a bit of my life which she felt held some possibilities and expand it beyond all recognition. ‘Did I tell you that Amelia is showing real talent on her violin?’ her well polished nails cut into my shoulder, ‘Her teacher tells us she will go far, he even mentioned the English National Youth Orchestra,’ which was true, he had but only in passing and not in relation to me at all. I had just scraped a grade three pass and it really wasn’t something to boast about. I would have liked her to mention my inclusion on the gifted and talented science list and my success at the local Lego robotics championships but they were not to be mentioned in company.
The car alarm startled me into action as nothing else had done. The noise would bring help. I brushed my badly behaved fringe out of my eyes and opened the car door wide. She had towered above me, slender and lovely, harsh words dripping from her perfectly lip-sticked mouth, hand gripping my shoulder ready to squeeze me into silence if necessary and now here she sat, slumped and squeezed out. Blood dripped gelatinously from the cut on her head, landing on her cream linen trousers where it had pooled and spread right across her lap, one of her nails was broken.
I closed the door quietly so as not to disturb her and let the catch click into place then
I pushed gently against the metal and encased her in the car. Walking around to the passenger side I opened my door and sat down really carefully, lifting in one foot at a time. My breath sounded so loud and I gulped it back in but I couldn’t do anything about my heart. I checked my face in the mirror; I had a lovely jagged cut over one eye and a bruise on my forehead which looked like a dinosaur egg. I reached down past the hand brake and the gear stick and, catching hold of her limp ankle, forced her shoe back on. Her body slumped again; she never would wear her seat belt. I patted her hand and then, sitting back, pulled my own belt into place. I peered through the rain at the blue lights’ distorted flashing and patted my hair, tomorrow, I would get it cut.