Saturday 18 June 2022

'Tentacles' by Adele Evershed

I have always been drawn to corners finding comfort in small spaces. The corner I have picked out is in the family room, I'd thought about choosing the lounge, but he doesn't deserve my best room. I finger my mother's mosaic brooch in my pocket; it feels rough, like scar tissue.

I make myself tea and pour the boiling water with the weight of waiting. I wonder how much of my life has been spent waiting for him? Waiting for him to leave before unlocking the bathroom door in the morning, waiting for the sound of his car at night, and now waiting for the phone to ring.

I swallow the scalding liquid to feel something and put my hand on my chest. I can feel two of my three hearts still beating. The third one broke long ago when I became a mimic octopus, changing in a blink to survive. I pretended I was happy to stop some well-meaning teacher from sending around social services. I flirted and hid the bruises so some boy wouldn't think I was damaged goods. And I'm still mimicking a woman who had a normal upbringing even now.

The phone rings. I run through my script. John, my husband, hurries into the room. I mumbled a thank you before hanging up and walking to the corner, sinking down.

"Love. I'm sorry", John says. I shake my head, "We've been expecting it. He had a long life." I can't bring myself to say "good life," although that was in my original script. Instead, I put my hand in my pocket and press the pin into the pad of my thumb. The sharp pain makes me gasp, and I suck the bubble of blue blood. It tastes of salt and waves and freedom.

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