I wake entwined in dampness and cocooned by a foreboding fear. I am curled foetal like on her rug, my blonde matted hair undistinguishable from the faded pearl sheepskin. My fingers work in a rigorous dance, plucking and tearing at the knots though there is no fruit to my labour; time has presented an impossible obstacle. Her scent still lingers, a heady mix of stale breast milk and the sweetness of a newborn. The nursery is dwarfed by its mahogany timber cot, regal and resplendent in rose cotton sheets. A lone teddy reclines on a heart shaped pillow as though awaiting the child it is to protect.
Her growth suit swings from its hanger and I run my palm from its collar to its toes imagining how it felt when she was in it, safe in my arms. A familiar metallic taste swells in the back of my throat as I summon the pain back inside. Just as I have for the past ten years.
An embossed button pops from its thread and bounces across the timber floorboards punctuating the silence like the thud of his boots once had. Oh how I wished that I could have stopped him. How could she have known that her shrieks would be met with such malice. My tiny daughter, so fragile and unaware. ‘I’ll see to her,’ he had promised. Her cries subsided and he slipped in bed beside me. A rough hand caressed my cheek as his whisper danced around our marital bed. ‘Susie, wake up.’
I begged him with the urgency of a new mother to let me sleep but his voice thundered. ‘Susie, wake-up.’ And then he told me that he had just snapped. ‘She wouldn’t stop crying, I didn’t mean it. Please forgive me Sus.’
Dust scatters like confetti as I pad around under her cot until I feel the coolness of the little metallic button. With my other hand I bring the growth suit to my nose and bury myself in her delicacy as I attempt to redeliver his words back into the recess of my mind and remain with her for a moment longer.