Listen

I was at the open window. The bird in the tree was singing to me. It was beautiful. I didn’t know who they were or what they wanted. They stood smiling.

The man said, ‘it’s ok, we will see to everything. Don’t worry.’

The woman said, ‘what would you like to bring?’

‘Listen,’ I said.

The man and the woman did not listen. They were looking in cupboards.

‘Would you like a cup of tea? said the man.

‘I’m sure she would like a cup of tea,’ the woman replied.

The man went into the kitchen. I heard him. ‘She hasn’t been taking her tablets.’ He came out holding something in his hand.

The bird was singing. It was beautiful. I watched the blossom float from the branches. ‘Like snow,’ I whispered.

‘Your tablets are like snow?’ The woman laughed.

‘I walked in the snow,’ I said. She did not hear. She was putting things into bags.

‘Tea up,’ the man said, ‘but no milk. It’s gone off.’ He handed me a cup. A pretty cup with a gold edge and flowers. The gold made patterns in the tea.

‘It’s pretty,’ I said. The two people were talking. The tea tasted bitter. I spat it out.

‘Don’t do that, don’t you like it?’ the woman said. She took the cup from me.

‘I want some, some… ‘

‘Yes, yes.’ She ran her fingers across the sideboard and sprinkled the dust into the air. She touched a photograph in a silver frame.

‘Don’t,’ I said. She had a bonnet and a bracelet. ‘Can you see?’ I asked.

‘See what?’ the woman said.

short story by sally flint‘The silver, silver.’ The woman looked at me. ‘Sixpence,’ I said and touched her. She moved away.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Why what?’ said the man.

‘What are you?’ I asked.

He laughed at me – out loud. ‘We’re helping you. You know that.’ I watched him clear away cups with gold rims and pretty flowers. He said something to the woman. She went away and came back with a coat.

‘Put this on,’ she said. I didn’t want to.

‘Listen,’ I said.

‘Come on, it’ll be ok. You’ll be looked after properly.’

I sat down and folded my arms.

‘Come on then. Let’s go,’ he said.

They put their arms under my arms and lifted me out of the chair. ‘No, no, no.’ I could see the cobwebs around the light shade. ‘Spiders,’ I said.

‘There are no spiders to hurt you – no one’s going to hurt you Mum,’ she said.

‘Shhh,’ I said.

The bird in the tree was singing to me. It was beautiful. They stood smiling.

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