Saturday 18 June 2022

'They Say that if You Put a Shell to Your Ear You Can Hear the Sea' by Katie Holloway

I pressed my ear into a coffee cup you left and I heard the early morning steam unfurling from the kettle as you, once again, were the one to get up and put it on. I heard the sibilant sigh of our late-night union. I heard you call me ‘love’ as you went out to work.

I cupped a block of Duplo I found under the sofa to my ear and I heard the pad of pudgy feet that used to tell me he’d finished his nap. I heard the shushing of my own lips as I calmed his tears, soothed and swaddled those wails in my arms. I heard the almost-not-there shifting of his breaths that I would check for in the night. I heard you telling me to chill, nothing would happen. I heard myself saying ‘I told you so’ through those bitter, endless tears.

I listened to the empty vodka bottle I discovered behind the toilet and I heard the constant, unanswered buzz of my vibrating phone. I heard the panicked, then wearied, messages you left when I didn’t show up to our appointments. I heard, too late, you explaining why they would help.

I put the shoe I’d dredged from the back of the wardrobe to my ear and I heard possibilities echoing inside the high heel. I heard echoes of a future conversation with you. I heard myself drawing the courage to call you, meet you, as I pulled it up as though from the centre of a whirlwind. I heard a laugh, so faint, that I thought I recognised, and all of a sudden realised it was mine.

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