Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Her parents had been supportive yet lost, they sat nodding, asking questions but waiting for that ray of information that would alleviate the fog and bring back the clarity of sunlight. As she sat watching them It was if they felt she had the answers but was holding back, as if this was somehow down to her. On walking upstairs she had even caught her mother looking in the under sink cupboard, as if she expected Charlie to spring out shouting ‘Boo Nana’.

She knew none of it made sense to anyone. None of it made sense to her, how can two people; two living, breathing and laughing people just disappear, just transform into two quivering puddles. The puddles were what upset and confused her the most, there was no trail of water from the bathroom, there were no piles of clothes or wet towels, there were just two perfectly circular puddles of water, one large, one small, side by side on the hall carpet.

She sat there looking at them now, her mother had done her best to clear the water, dabbing with old newspapers, soaking up her missing family. Were they there now amongst the lines of mindless print, would Shane be happy now he was truly at one with the Sports Section? The idea of Shane in liquid form  happily seeping through the print of the football pages  made her smile and lifted her spirits slightly. She gave a little shake of her head as if trying to dislodge the thought, now was not the time for frivolity, her husband and child were missing, and although she could not reach out and touch a practical explanation, to consider them transformed somehow into puddles was ludicrous.


 It was 11.07am, the clock on the oven sat unchanging, each minute seeming longer than she had ever thought possible. Lyn was by the sink, the sound of a thousand droplets of water filling the kettle. Tea, that golden liquid that was meant to cure all. How many cups had been made and left undrunk on table and shelf in the past 17 hours? The rings of where the half full cups once stood stayed behind as a reminder of how the house was once full of people asking questions. But now, just like the cups that had been cleared and washed and put away, so the people had gone, leaving behind only dirty marks on table, shelf, floor and mind.

Lyn called to her as she sat on the bottom step, “Do you want a cuppa?” She looked up the stairs to where the two pools of water had been, silently and ominously waiting for her. “No thanks Lyn, just a glass of water please.” Her voice sounded alien, it echoed around the house as if a ventriloquist had answer for her, throwing its voice from the lounge to her lips. She moved up the stairs until she sat on the top step staring at the two damp patches that remained. From here she could hear the past, hear the questions and her own silence filled with a lack of answers. “So Mrs Wunsted, you came up the stairs to help with bath time and they were just gone, your husband and son had....disappeared?” “Had you and your husband had an argument of any sort?” “Was your husband unhappy Mrs Wunsted?” “Is there anywhere they might have gone?” The police officer was kind in his nature but his pacing and constant looks to the window, like a captive lion, made it clear what a waste of his time he felt this was. It hadn’t even been 24 hours and although there was a child involved in the disappearance, it was probably with its father.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

From upstairs she could hear the sound of laughter filling the hallway at the same time as water filled the bath tub. She spent an extra moment enjoying a last sip of wine before turning down the dinner, switching off the tv and heading upstairs for the last and most tedious child related chore of the day; bath and bed. As she mounted the first step she thought about the bedtime routine, it wasn’t as if it was all that bad, there were plenty of cuddles during storytime and the big sleepy hugs, but by the time 6o’clock came around patience levels were close to zero, and it would only take a particle of straw dust to break the camels back. She also knew she was lucky, Shane was nearly always home for bedtime and was eager to help, she knew many other mothers who completed this last and most filled chore alone, and were left weeping into their wine come 7pm. However Shane and herself had fallen into the routine, the routine she always thought she would conquer, she had seen friend after friend fall into ‘friendship’ with their partners, why did she think she was so different? Why did she feel they could  keep their individuality and coupledom on track when all others had fallen from the wild open-topped cabriolet of love into the 7 seater 4x4 of life?

She got to the top step and turned to see her husband and son, it wasn’t until after wards that she would noticed the laughter had stopped? When did it cease? She had been so wrapped up in her own thoughts she hadn’t noticed its departure. She turned, and as she did she felt the atmosphere change around her, for in the place of her husband and son sat two round quivering pools of water.

‘ as I was saying, Robert thought we should sell but I wasn’t  sure...Is that my wine?...he thought now would bring in the most profit....Does this need stirring Love? we looked at the figures and you know what?? He was actually right...Oh great is this my shirt for tomorrow? I’ll just go and....’

Her husband, fresh and smelling woody and earthy from his evening shower circled the kitchen picking up where he had left his daily round-up narrative. He went from base to base, working his way round with practised efficiency, first the worktop by fridge; where wine was waiting, then the hob; to check what was for dinner, to the utility area; finding clothes for the next day, and lastly back to the door where he vanished  leaving a trail of earthy scent in his wake. On seeing Daddy disappear Charlie took up his scent and after wriggling and writhing was released from his embrace, his chubby little legs mounting the stairs as if climbing Everest.

Alone again in the kitchen she went to the hob to stir the dinner, on finding it a little dry she reached for the wine, listening to the gurgle as it splashed into the pan she reached for her glass topped it up once more.  She held the cut crystal glass, now heavy with oak and blackberries, and took a long sip closing her eyes and losing herself in the smoothness and roundness and adultness of it.

Friday, 2 March 2012

She closed the door behind her and leant against it heavily, from the lounge came the familiar cheery music of toddler tv, from the kitchen the melodious thud of a tumble drier and from upstairs the sound of thousands of droplets falling from the shower, droplets not dissimilar to those falling on the door she leant upon. In the kitchen she washed her hands of the dirt that had settled on the bin lid and had transferred to her fingers. She watched the droplets of water as they fell from the tap and cascaded over her hands, each one stinging as the warm water replaced that of the bitter cold rain. She watched the water as it raced in circles around the sink, the droplets playing tag until they found ‘home’ in the drain.

 From behind her she heard the ‘thud’  ‘thud’  of a pair of chubby little feet as they left the settee and set off for an exploratory mission to find Mummy. The lounge door opened with a squeak and the footsteps quickened as the chubby little rocket propelled itself forward towards her back. On contact the warm, squidgy rocket nestled into her legs, grabbing at her thighs ‘Muuummmmmyyyyyy’ it wailed like a siren ‘Muuuuummmmmmmyyyyyyy’. She stiffened at the sound, waiting for the next request she’d be asked to fulfil. What would it be this time? Food? Drink? A different sickeningly cheery tv programme? ‘Love ooo’ said the Rocket with an ingenious smile that shouted ‘you weren’t expecting that were you?’ She looked down at her son, his conker brown hair fell backwards showing his full round face as he hung onto her leg and smiled up at her. That smile, it still did it, still melted her at times just when she needed it. She picked him up and he snuggled into her neck, all chubby fingers and cold nose, she held him letting his soft breath fall against her neck, trying to synchronise the rhythm of his rising and falling chest with her own.

The Thaw


She looked up towards the sky and then down at the rain spattered pavement. Each fresh droplet of rain that fell to the cold ground sat alone, quivering, waiting for a companion. Each new drop that fell searched out another, until they joined, becoming one new larger entity, an entity awaiting the arrival of even larger numbers. With each new member the excitement of the rainwater mounted and it raced forward encompassing more companions. Happily the merry band of droplets gained speed and formed a stream that quietly beat its own path toward the gutter and drain below.

She watched the stream as it wound its way down the pavement and off the edge of the curb, she admired the strength and determination of those little droplets, how they worked together for a common goal, finally succeeding in reaching the drain. She looked back at where she saw the first droplets fall and begun to wonder; where was that first raindrop now, where was that bold sphere of water that fell bravely from the sky and lay quivering with excitement, could it ever be separated from the stream again, could it ever be an individual?