At age seven, Amelia decided to become her parents’ chest of drawers.
She had loved it from first touch. Rosewood swirls and curved legs lured her baby fingers. She crawled across the grey carpet to stroke the smooth surface. As she grew, Amelia watched her mother deposit clothes into its depths. The chest swallowed pants, shirts and socks without complaint. Drawers slid along smooth runners with a hush.
Later, she began to visit it certain evenings. Amelia whispered secrets into brass pulls, ran fingers along polished carving. Pressed against it, the flat front cooled her hot cheek. She craved its stillness, melding with the grain. An ache, beginning low near her stomach, spread, tingling. Her arms and legs grew stiff. She drew shallow breaths until spots clouded her vision and the world went black.
She woke sprawled on the floor underneath the chest. Amelia’s transformation left physical marks: purple bruises on a temple, red scrapes on knees. Her mother, tongue clicking, told her to be more careful.
On Thursday evenings Amelia’s mother went to bingo. Powdered and perfumed, her mother blew an air kiss, stepping out as her father stepped in. He took off his jacket, lifted Amelia to the kitchen sink. They washed their hands together, mingling in the warm stream and suds, his weight pressing against her.
At the kitchen table, they each peeled back plastic wrap covering salad plates. It crinkled and stuck to Amelia’s fingers, egg yolk dust rising and falling on tired lettuce. Her father speared and shoveled. She selected bits, chewed at snail speed. When his chair scraped the lino, she clutched her fork. Pulling it out of her hand, her father prodded her down the hall.
In her parents’ bedroom, a familiar ache began. Amelia’s arms and legs tensed, waiting for the tingling. When he knelt before her, she looked over his thinning hair. The chest glowed in evening light. Rosewood whirls rose on her skin. Yellow, pink and purple spots danced across her view, mixing with glinting brass and polish. Runners rubbed, wood-to-wood. Spaces filled up with secrets and then pushed closed again.
*First published in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Vol 7 No 2
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