He Hadn’t Meant to Scare Him

He hadn’t meant to scare him, he hadn’t meant to hurt him. He can’t have meant it!

I stood in the doorway of our play room. I couldn’t force myself to take another step. My heart was hammering against my stomach, making it convulse. I had to calm down, I had to walk through this door. I tried to ground myself. Pulling the world around me into sharp focus.

Five things you can see.

The light was so bright, it made the walls a richer green than they would have been.

The window pain across from me had a crack running through it. It caught the light, making it burn brightly.

There was a potted plant a little to the left of the window, seemingly reaching for the nourishing light.

The grain in the door frame was old and intricate, a worn and lacquered chestnut brown carved with deep lines of growth.

Little Davie’s body, small, seven, dead. Michael sitting at the desk, back turned, ten, baseball bat beside him.

My scalp tingled and my head spun. My hands, wrung together, started to tingle with the feeling of themselves moving against each other over and over. I felt the bubbling call of vomit stirring in me.

Deep breath.

Four things you can hear.

Somewhere a phone was ringing, sharp and alien.

The clock on the wall smashed through the seconds

Michael was starting to cry…

He had turned to face me, impassive at first before suddenly crying.

“Don’t ground me Mum!” he blubbered “Davie wouldn’t leave me alone!”

But I looked at my son, and every fear I had pushed aside forced its way horribly into my mind. Next door’s dog, that kid with the broken arm, every angry tantrum.

No apology, just a request not to punish.

I should have kept Davie safe.

I saw the menace in Michael and I ignored it.