- Vol. 05
- Chapter 02
All I hear are screams.
I see nothing.
I feel nothing.
I taste nothing on my porcelain tongue.
But I hear. The shrill howls, the wailing, the hot and feverish ah ah aahhhhhhing. Her wet and angry tears were all I knew. Her bawling piercing my brain, jolting me from sleep, souring my food, following me into my dreams.
I didn’t mean to do it.
Don’t wake the baby, Sasha!
Don’t upset the baby, Sasha!
The baby, Sasha, the baby the baby!
Go away, Sasha!
But what of me? The apple of their eye had fallen and rotted. The centre of their universe burst into a million tiny stars, shining, shining but dead, dead. Forgotten. Their little princess usurped. A new queen in this house.
I stared at her as she lay in her crib. My crib. Her rosy cheeks and plump limbs good enough to bite, her head lay to one side. Silent. Peaceful.
She opened her eyes and it seemed to me that she smiled then. A calculating smirk, a toothless grin that told me yes, I know. I know. And I don’t care.
Little SisterAnd then her face twisted into that shape. The furrowed brow, the bunched-up cheeks, the breath drawn in before she cried her warrior’s cry, summoning her loyal subjects to fuss and coo and soothe and banish me away!
Before it could escape her – her rage and discomfort, her need to be held – I pulled her from the cot and muffled her cries within my nightdress. I held her tight, so tight, so tight, and she could not struggle, this tiny thing, could only waggle her arms and flail her legs as I held her and held her.
I stayed there for a while, her head against my chest, and savored the sweetest silence before I laid her down, her face a strange and mottled shade of blue.
I waited one heartbeat and then another. Frozen, staring at her body, still.
And then, inside my head, the screams began. The howls beat against my skin, the wailing, the hot and feverish ah ahh ahhhhhing ripped from my own throat.
I hadn’t meant to…
I didn’t want to…
An orchestra of noise overwhelmed my senses. I screamed and screamed and the tears ran hot from my eyes, molten like wax, the texture of guilt. Over my face my neck my shoulders my chest it washed, covering my eyes, hardening my skin, hardening my heart.
Until I could feel no more. Until I could no longer see. Until I could no longer move. The taste of my tears gone from my tongue.
But still, I can hear.
And all I hear are screams.