Trying to gently adjust my bare legs, I find them stuck to the sofa. Nipples that are no longer my own leak milk through my bra. A tiny scrap of a thing lies in a nappy across my soft belly, and we rise and fall together. I’m cooking like a turkey. Outside, roads melt, and train tracks buckle. Carl won’t be home for hours. I hear the ice cream van and long for an orange ice lolly.
I can’t think clearly, yet my subconscious is imparting something important. I sense danger is afoot and can’t drop off for fear that something will go horribly wrong. What don’t I yet know? I suddenly feel a tug, a gossamer-thin, and spiderweb-like connection to my birth mother, Sheila. On the day she reappeared without warning five years ago, I didn’t know whether to hug her or walk out and never look back. I did neither. Even now, we repel rather than attract one another.
Today, via some polite text messages, she unexpectedly puts my mind at rest. I gently place my new son in his cot and fall onto my own mattress in a tangle. Two hours later, screaming pierces the air. I wake up just enough to pick him up, and he urgently suckles. In a dream-like state, images of Sheila float around my mind. Time and sands shift. I am my son, and she is holding me. Chameleon-like, her colours brighten. I still hate that she left me.
Hannah Powell lives in Essex, UK. She published her memoir The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix A Faulty Brain in October 2021 and has only recently started writing fiction. She tweets about plants, books, writing and garden centre life at @cactussurgeon
Photo credit -Hannah Powell
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