There’s a hole in our house that you can’t see, but sometimes you can feel it waiting for you at the edges.
When I got up this morning, gram-ma was in the kitchen, leaning against the Side. I looked up at her hands, holding the mug that me and daddy decorated at the Pik-a-Paint place. It was supposed to look like mummy but it looked like next door’s tree that fell over from the storm.
I stuck my arms up in the air and gram-ma swung me up to her squashy chest all warm. Her smell was the sticky cream she puts on after the washingUp.
There’s my naomi-girl! she said, that way she does, so that my name is the start of a song. My feet dangled near the Side so I had to be careful not to bang the vase with the purple flowers in, for my violet-sister.
I don’t know who buys those flowers every year, if it’s mummy or gram-ma or daddy. If you look hard you can see they’re not just purple, they have little splashes of yellow inside. But mummy doesn’t like me to get too close to them. And anyway, they make me think of the smoke that daddy blows away outside, when mummy’s got the door closed.
I dug my knees in tighter around gram-ma’s middle till she said Time to go put on your buttercup skirt naomi-girl. When I wear it and she spins me, it floats up and out, big as a parachute.
Upstairs I passed mummy and daddy’s room and I heard daddy say my name. I stood still behind the nearly-shut door because I wanted to know what they knew about me that I didn’t. What it is that’s wrong.
-not the same, I heard mummy say.
It’s been four years, said daddy.
Don’t! said mummy angry, not today. She sounded as stiff as those times she used to take me out in the buggy, and call me just-naomi to the other mummies.
Gram-ma came to find me and said Let’s do your hair naomi-girl, and she did it in a long rapunzel plait. I found a ribbon that was bright like sun and gram-ma tied it in to make me special, a present for mummy.
Downstairs, my friends and their mummies had all come, so we could keepourselvesbusy quite easily. We had party tea with everything round as planets. Mini pizzas, lemon-iced biscuits and shiny foil-wrapped domes of chocolate and jam and marshmallow.
Gram-ma played the CDs that we like about Saturday night and walking out the door, on Loud. For a little bit I wanted to forget that today was my violet-sister’s Birth day, and all mummy got was me instead. Gram-ma held my hand and span me and sang my name, and I danced into all the empty corners with my twirling golden skirt.
Dawn Siofra North belongs to a home-educating family rooted in story and place. Her work has been included in Legerdemain (National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2021), and she’s a little bit in love with the novella-in-flash.