Monday, 2 September 2019

No Apparent End

by Sandra Walls

Standing naked in front of the full length bedroom mirror, I traced the still reddened numb scar with my middle finger from one end to the other.  I inspected my reflection paying particular attention to the swollen but empty belly. Engorged breasts contracted in pain, eyes squeezed tight, body crunched up, but there would be no latching-on nor relief. A thought skiffed through the mind, bereft and missing something in life that never existed.  My lip quivered and chin contracted automatically in anguish and stifled welling tears. Trying to best dry off having just struggled from the recommended ‘nice hot bath’ that would ‘do you good’.  Skin still clammy, I pulled the white cold cotton nightie over my head.  Sat down at the walnut dresser on my favourite white furry stool. A mismatch of furniture, but couldn’t part with it, the stool was a ‘wee minding’ from aunt Mary who had died too young aged 38-years-old. Also got the art deco style silver dressing set, it had a soft bristle paddle brush, a French-style hand mirror and silver comb. These sat beautifully on a cut crystal tray. I scanned the table top, but never saw a thing, but was again drawn to the image in the mirror, I turned into it staring at the reflection.  Skin cold, was like a candle, pallid and motionless. But the heart deeply ached. Unrecognised, that reflection’s not me, it’s a doppelganger taking over me.  Its eyes dull and dark circles under, opened its mouth wide, too wide, until the jaw looked misplaced.  It let out a guttural low wail from the diaphragm, and gained momentum until there was no voice left, it held the silent note, no breath, until an intake released another cry, that sounded more like a tortured wild animal. Engulfed in the unseen suffering, rage and the unknown. 

Head held low, all the while I whispered.  My arms clasped around my breasts, I closed my eyes and cradled myself.  Clutching the imaginary bundle and rocked and rocked my rigid body to and fro in a frenzy.  Chanting silently, to still the mind and quiet the storm. The storm that was brewing… with no apparent end.

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