By Sara Crowley
You have left the station and are trying to remember your way to the town centre. You are two hours early for the appointment with the psychiatrist who wants to discus the state of your child’s mental health. You are trying to formulate a plan.
The spring morning is sharp and bright. You stop in the middle of a wide road. It is not a safe place.
You go to a café and buy a mocha. You wipe your mouth after each sip in case you retain a creamy moustache. You hold a paperback, scan the words but do not read them.
You think of your son’s cuddle; the warmth of his body pressed against yours. You rub the teeth marks that remain imprinted on your arm. It has always been love/hate with him. When you start to trust the peace, he will erupt. What pours forth could be words, violence, urine, tears…you never know. You clamp your lips; lip on lip, pushed hard.
In the street, you check your watch. There is still an hour to go. You walk into a shop and look at rings in the shapes of flowers, butterflies, snakes. You pretend you may want one.
A greasy sickness slides over you. Moisture dots your top lip. Your head begins a soft pulsing. You enter a department store and locate the washroom. In the cubicle, your stomach churns and shit splatters into the toilet.
You only have ten minutes. You speed walk.
A bus passes; its destination is a place you have never been to. You flirt with the notion of going there right now.
This will be the eighteenth health care professional that you have spoken to this year. You met her for the first time two weeks ago when she ‘assessed’ your child. You remember the pictures and mottos that she had tacked to a corkboard above her desk. There was a postcard: blue water, blue mountainous shapes, another place that you have not been.
You knew that the tranquil scene was a trick to make you feel calm, just like her quiet voice, her careful body language. You know that she is another woman who will say she can help. Your son is ten years old and you have stopped believing anything will change.
Outside the hospital, you check your face in a handbag mirror. You apply another layer of lipstick. You are wearing a suit, a tactic you have learned disarms.
You wonder how other mums cope. You walk towards the huddle of smokers outside the main entrance as the plan you have been struggling with snaps into focus.
You lay down in the ambulance bay. You can’t decide whether to lie on your back or to curl in your sleeping position. You try both. Neither is comfortable. You wait for help.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Crowley has had fiction published by Pulp.Net, elimae, flashquake, Litro, Cella’s Round Trip, Better Non Sequitur, Red Peter, and a variety of other lovely places. Salted, her novel in progress, was shortlisted for the 2007 Faber/Book Tokens Not Yet Published Award. She blogs at A Salted and appreciates you taking the time to read this.