UNFAVOURED CHILD.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A GIRL AND HER UNLOVING MOTHER.

Submitted: January 19, 2012

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Submitted: January 19, 2012

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Sonia braids her daughter’s hair. The child is reading her father’s newspaper. Sonia feels the child’s hair between fingers and thumbs. The child has grown since her brother’s death. Shot up. Hard to believe. What’s in the papers? Sonia asks. The usual the child utters turning a page. She senses her mother’s fingers against her neck. The coldness of them. Rough with the washing.  Is there news of Christiana’s wedding? Sonia asks. The child turns the page but does not reply. She’d heard them rowing the previous night. She’d put her head beneath the pillows to block out the sounds.  It’s rude not to answer when asked a question Sonia says. She pulls the hair tight between her fingers. The child says you’re hurting me. Not for the first time she muses staring at the page of the paper. Then answer Sonia says. No news of any wedding the child replies. Just lies she utters beneath breathe. Sonia remembers her own mother braiding her hair. Her hair was long then. Reached her waist. Her mother used to braid it tight so that it hurt. A girl was murdered the child utters. When? Sonia asks. Where? The child lifts the newspaper up to her eyes. Peers. Sunday night the child mutters. Near the river. Poor dear Sonia says. The child moves the page in front of her eyes. Don’t peer so Sonia says coldly. The child moves the page so that her nose brushes along the paper. You’ll ruin your eyes Sonia says. Father says I need spectacles the child says. He would. Always wanting to spoil. We’ll see Sonia says. She grabs a handful of the child’s hair and begins to braid the other strands. She stares at the child’s neck. The way the parted and braided hair is fashioned. The child fidgets. Keep still Sonia says angrily. She pulls the hair tight between hands. Hurts the child mutters. Hurts she says inwardly. If only Father knew how to braid hair. Soft hands. Nimble fingers. Keep still then Sonia says pulling the child’s hair towards her. Beside the newspaper on the table is the hairbrush. The child puts down the newspaper and touches the hairbrush. Her mother had brushed her hair before braiding. A hundred strokes her mother had said makes the hair pliable. She had counted each one until she lost count. The pain had distracted her. You’re being rough she had told her mother. Sonia had brushed firmly. It’s in your interest to have well brushed hair Sonia had said. You don’t want hair like those Gibbon girls. Knotty and full of lice. The child feels the finger do their work. Her mother’s breath heavy and laboured. If only father was here more often the child muses. If only he was there when Mother gets cross. Sometimes they laugh when he is home she muses. Mother and he row. Sometimes they seem happy. One night she crept along the passageway and put her ear to their bedroom door. There was whispering and giggling. There were the sounds of the bedsprings making noise. She had closed her eyes to focus more. There were groans. Soft groans. She crept back to her bed and pulled the covers over her head. Sonia releases the child hair. There it’s done she said. The child turns and looks at her mother. The eyes dark like deep pools of oil. The lips tight as if sewn together. What do you say? Sonia says. The child holding the hairbrush behind her back says thank you. Sonia takes in the child’s features. The eyes empty like dark wells of blackness. The lips semi parted wanting to speak but not doing so. The child feels her mother eyes on her like spiders creeping over her flesh. Get ready for school Sonia says. The child nods. She moves sideways. Her eyes focusing on her mother. Sonia gets up and walks to the sink and washes her hands.  The child stuffs the hairbrush into her dress pocket. Out of sight. Out of mind. Her mother’s back is turned away. The child creeps along the wall and into her room. She places the hairbrush into the drawer of the dressing table. Out of sight out of mind she mutters. In temper her mother has beaten her with it. What would Father say? What would Father? What would? What? Sonia dries her hands on a towel. The child has gone. The hair done. Her duty complete. She stands staring out of the window. Her son dead. Her husband shuts her out. Her baby son cold in the cot bed. The moonlight shining on his pale features. The child standing by the cot gazing in at the dead brother. Lips parted. Eyes peering. Son dead. Broken hearted. Sonia peers at the grey winter sky. She sighs. If only she could have chosen which child should die.


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