by Jaz Hurford
Though you haven’t been home in six months, the walls are still standing. The lights still work. They glow proudly over the ceilings, extinguishing when they know everyone has had enough.
Our daughter has taken to obsessing over her crayons. She has a whole packet full of colours, but only draws with the red and brown.
Our daughter draws people sometimes, but mostly shapes. Four-sided red and brown shapes, often for hours on end.
“They’re bricks, mummy,” she sighs at me, sticking out her perfect little pink tongue as she draws, refusing her dinner. I make her favourite, chicken nuggets and fries, the really skinny kind. Skinny and nutrition-free, submerged in salt.
Still, she does not eat. She draws bricks in a frenzy as the night envelopes and my limbs stiffen, movements meticulously slow.
Yesterday her red crayon snapped and she cried for three hours. Not with the hot anger known to wrap around children, tying them in a neat bow of frustration. Had that been the case, my heart wouldn’t have quivered, or pulled with realisation.
The crying was raw and cold; unembellished. A broken howl of hysteria, a cry for help I do not have the strength to muster.
She cried and I told her it’s okay, just a crayon. We’re going to get you another.
The morning after I was getting dressed, searching for my crimson lipstick. I looked for it frantically; the colour is the one of the only bright things in my day. When I was going to be late for work I sighed, giving up the hunt.
I headed downstairs, and something within me fell when I saw it. Some of our days are a lot worse.
Our baby girl was there, her eyes shining, hair unkempt. My lost lipstick was poking out from her chubby fingers, and paper littered the floors with desperation.
The bricks were everywhere, scattered as debris. Red and brown bricks, endless mothers and daddies; endless happy little girls.
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A lowly twenty-something flitting between jobs, Jaz Hurford loves literature. When she isn't attempting to write she reads, cycles and spends time with her beautiful family. Some of her previous work has been published by Blue Animal Literature, and one of her pieces was recently selected for publication by Reflex Press.