Mother is frying onions and herbs in the kitchen. The lingering cold in the air makes itself known with a breeze that runs through the breadth of the house. The slow weeping of Allison Moyet’s ‘Cry Me a River’ flows down the staircase you trudge up, one hand clasping the laundry, the other pulling up your long red skirt. You’ve almost reached the landing, lit dimply by the orange evening lights, when a sudden cloud of heavy scent engulfs you.
Ah, she’s put the tomato in the pan.
The slight prickle of the near-burnt onions and seasoning disappears amidst the brooding waft of tang and meat. Your skin is coated and plastered with heavy oil, dripping down your eyes and nose, past your lips, down your stretched neck. You need to run. You’re insulated, separated from the world, but you’re dying to break through the barrier and feel.Feel something, anything at all. Frustration builds and threatens to tear your skin, fissure by fissure, through veins and joints and all. You’re trapped, clawing at some invisible force inside of you.
Christ, it’s suffocating. You need to retch. Scratch. Peel. Get out.
It fills every pore of your lungs, weighing it down, dragging you in a constant direction opposite, feet shackled down. You can’t budge. Moyet’s soul croones and resonates in the gluten filled case you’re trapped in. You heave in air, desperately trying to rid your chest of the sudden bulk. It’s a few more seconds before you’re accostomed to it, moving forward onto the cool of the tiles, now seeping into your feet. You walk briskly into your father’s room, your skirt whooshing, then taunt between your legs. You drop the clothes on his bed and stumble out as mournful singing fills your ears once more. You start to walk back down the staircase, odour of all condiments from the kitchen now less overwhelming, the song from upstairs picking up a faster pace.
It comes without warning, all at once.
You’re gazing past the orange haze in the air and into the dark of the night, your ears are muffled yet receptive and that fog of unawareness settles in your mind, piling up slowly, albeit a little painfully in the bridge of your nose and temples below your spectacles. A thin film of ash seems to veil your gaze, you’re eyes are squinting, face in a slight frown, not quite focusing on anything.
Your hips move. They’re lost in an oscillating lull, lost to an unknown calling. Your feet and legs raise slightly and join in. You’re bending. This hasn’t happened before.
Those black figures climb up the walls again, flashing through the corner of your eyes. On the walls, along the railing of the staircase, flitting across the steps, sliding up the chest of drawers. You’re used to it now – the figures and the faces and the hands. Not much of a surprise of the mind anymore.
Just like that, it left you.
The soles of your feet are back on marble, a steadiness fills your blood and you’re handed to the waves once more.