• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 07
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Your Freedom

When I was a child, I used to call this quiet, boredom. And I despised her for it. The boredom of the water, waiting to cool. The boredom of the bedroom, waiting for dusk. The boredom of the closing mouth of the day, yawning into the long, boring night. My toes itched for freedom.

We have access to contraception, and now we pretend it’s a choice. But you can’t choose what you can’t imagine. (I whisper this daily, to the rhythm of a rolling pram.) Oh, I do remember the years before – the belly-aching sadness of not having a child; the stale, dry-mouthed hunger; the silent grief, month on month. It’s the silence of those years that crushes these ones into their domestic hush.

The other day I calculated that I have bathed you over a thousand times, already. I find myself leaning my head close to yours, stroking the soft goodness of your skin, feeling your heaviness fold, unthinkingly, into my lap; and I blink to forget the freedoms rotting in the toes of my smartest shoes.

With one hand, you weigh yourself against my body. With the other, you test the flesh of your leg. Soon, the light will fade from behind the curtains, the dust will rise like stars from the covers of your bed. You wriggle away from me, and half-walk, half-stumble towards sounds from the other side of the door. I watch the curve of your back. Your beautiful, sensuous freedom.