• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 09
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“It’s okay, it’s fine.”
      It couldn't be any further from the truth, and it’s now patently obvious, sinking in, but more than that, gnawing down even, corroding. You can’t shake this off. The guilt.
      “I’m alright, I promise.”
      The shrug off, the shrinking away, the rejection. Two moves on the first turn.
      “I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…”
      It’s the best you can muster, the phrase sounds jarring, pathetic, empty. The routes are manifold, a mist, let them solidify.
      “I don’t understand. I don't get it...”
      Broken off, tentative. To draw you in? Clichés line up to face the firing squad. Avoid the obvious moves, you know what will follow. Choose carefully.
“Let’s sit down here, let’s talk about it. I know you don't want to, I know, I know.”
You hold her reluctant body against you, she resists, but caves, because you're her mother, you'll always be her mother. Maybe she'll cry. You’ve learnt to fight the feeling at the back of your throat, that rises behind your nose to the back of your eyes. You push it down.
“Why? Just why? Does Seb know? Have you told him?”
Almost breathless, nasal, she presses at her face as if she could physically squeeze the thoughts from her head, wring out her brain. The board is cluttered now.
You can see how it plays, the counter, the response.

Tell her?

“Why couldn't you tell me? Why did this have to happen? I go back for exams next week…”




“I know he does, that’s why he hasn't come back for Easter, isn't it? I bet if I call him from your phone he won't even pick up.”

But you remain silent.

She stands up, and leaves the room, knocking the table on her way out, and a glass topples to the ground.

You stare at the pieces on the floor.