The hair tumbling down Effie’s back is a rough sketch of a waterfall. She yanks out strands from where it won’t show, and with a contraband needle embroiders my pyjamas with Hydrangeas ̶ rectifies Institutional Blue with clouds of blowsy white flowers that speak of thirst. They are a nod to our rain-soaked walks in the therapeutic garden that, we heard said, indicated we were not yet well.
The night before I’m discharged, I dream of drinking every tap dry, of nurses weeping over empty kettles, and doctors placing mugs on window sills, praying for a downpour.
Released, I buy silky rose-covered nightwear. I fold away Effie’s artistry. Unworn, it flourishes. Blooms push draws open, seeds drop and germinate on wooden floorboards, roots wind around pipework. My home is awash with whites, pinks, blues ̶ weightless tones.
When she’s home, I gather a bouquet for Effie, and visit. We make ourselves crowns of soft petals, elevate our status, applaud our authority over thoughts that can slip like bare feet in the mud.
Anika Carpenter lives and works in Brighton, UK. Her stories can be found in Ellipsis Zine, The Molotov Cocktail, TSS and Janus Literary. Her work has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Prize and the Bridport Prize. You can find her via her website www.anikacarpenter.com or Twitter @stillsquirrel
Illustration by Mander Ellis – Instagram @mander.ellis
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