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Jason told me he has been posting all my letters. He tells me to be patient with your response, that you will read them soon and come to stay with me for a long time. Perhaps, you’re busy right now. I’m just not myself since the dead baby came out of me.
I can’t stop dreaming of the fall. I can’t stop thinking of the angry man with a nerve throbbing at the temple, his fist waving close to my nose, telling me I didn’t deserve to be a mother; mothers needed to be more careful, watch their step.
I fall so often from the stairs and hurt myself. He tells me it’s just carelessness and my idle woman’s mind, wandering about, looking for trouble, making up stories. I keep imagining things that aren’t true. He laughs and looks at me as if I’m crazy. “It’s all in your mind.”
I imagine that at night, he slides out of bed at the muffled vibration of the phone. I imagine I hear him talking and laughing. Sometimes, I hear the soft purr of the engine in the still silence of the night as the car drives off. I hear him come back in the morning, slide back into bed. But my brain is always groggy after dinner, you know. Sometimes, sleep comes so suddenly and so strong he has to sweep me up the few steps to the bed after my head drops on the table.
Only at night do they stop hurting for some time – the scars on my face that are always fresh. Like the sickly sweet smell of flowers in the vase, always fresh, always in bloom. Even before the baby, I would fall on the stairs and hurt myself. When I’d look up, he was always standing there, quietly, looking at me like he saw the fall coming, an ‘I told you so’ look on his face. “I was right behind you on the same stairs. Why are you always the one who slips?”
Since the baby, I can’t remember what the rest of the house looks like. I haven’t stepped out of the room. My day begins here, sometime after Jason leaves for work. He always calls at noon to check I’m awake. Then, he laughs at the stories my mind makes up at night, about his coming and going, about his face in the dark close to mine when I felt the edge of a blade on my brow. I want to stop making up these stories, but every night, my mind imagines them anew, and every morning, he makes fun of me. I wish I could stop; I don’t like being made fun of.
At noon, when I touch my brow, my fingers come back with a touch of blood. In the mirror, I see a crumpled face, still somewhat asleep. It’s ruffled, like a bed that is still fresh with the memory of sleep. It’s also old and growing older and more tired every day. There’s always a rush in my head when I stand up at once, so I don’t dare to step out any more.
He has set up an eating station at the dressing table. He has put Digestives, an electric kettle to make tea with, and a basket of bananas. I want to call you. I want to have a long chat with you, talk about my days like we used to. But I’ve accidentally deleted your number; I can’t find it in my phone any more. I keep forgetting to ask Jason to feed it in. I’m afraid he’ll get angry with my carelessness again. Why am I always the one falling off the stairs? Why am I always the one accidentally misplacing things – money he left with me, phone numbers?
Sometimes, in the afternoon, a panic grips my throat, like I’m trapped, like I’m a prisoner in my own house.
“Melodrama,” he says. “You’re a queen in your house. Let me come back home and treat you like one.”
From then on, the wait seems easy. I know he’ll be home soon, spoiling me, bringing me dinner in the room, setting up the meal with a flourish. Every evening, he brings me flowers.