She clings like cobwebs to the corners of the room, pieces that once were ‘mother’. Outside, the street lights splinter through the trees and cast spindly fingers across the floor of the bungalow as rain drums a mocking heartbeat against the window panes. It had been light when I had arrived, weary after the wake, but I had sat long and in silence until the night fell about my shoulders like a shroud. I settle in the centre of the room, fingers running through the carpet as if digging through soil. It had been easier before, in my happier home. Now I nest in the bedroom, surrounded by fragments of her. A paperback book, spine bent, rests on her pillow. A thin tortoiseshell comb sits by the mirror, dark hair from a too-harsh tug wrapped around its teeth. A solitary sock trimmed with lace lies redundant near the foot of the bed. Already, motes of dust slowly spiral through the air like falling stars in the soft orange glow of the lamp posts. Tomorrow I will fold away this room and clear away the remnants but for now, I sit, silent in the epicentre of what recently was. The front door creaks open- my brother returned at last, but too late. I call out and my voice feels hollow in the muted space, as if the walls and the dust and the skeletal limbs of the trees seek to entomb this room. He shadows the doorway, hesitating at the boundary between the hall and her room. “Where were you?” I whisper, but it is lost as the wind outside, bolstered by some unknown rage, sweeps through the village.
By Louise McCue