The door slams shut on a silent, empty home; a tired, sweaty woman stands in the doorway. A bag of shopping, a backpack of cleaning products and cradling tightly she holds a small baby girl.
She drops her bags in the living room and sits with the baby rocking gently back and forth.
She whispers to the baby reassuring words that her mother will always be here for her, as if the baby could understand.
She looks around her small apartment as the memories of a young relationship flood her mind. She restrains herself from crying. The answer machine, now with nine messages continues to go ignored.
She looks at her baby’s soft round face and thinks about their uncertain future together. This would normally fill her with unease but she is emotionally and physically drained.
She gingerly scoops her child up an makes her way up the creaky steps to her bedroom and places the baby down in her crib, and it lays there nestled like a delicate puppy,
yet to open it’s eyes for the first time. The lady stares at her and takes a moment to wallow in the feeling that the struggle may just be worth the strong, proud person she will one day become.
Her eyelids are droopy. She looks down at her hands. They are still greasy and rough from work and with a sigh she moves her deflated legs across the corridor toward the bathroom.
At the top of the stairs an insect, gnat or housefly zigzags through the air and then straight into the white of her left eye. She is momentarily blinded and instinctually takes one step backwards.
Her foot lands right on the peak of the top step and her body is thrown off balance just enough to send her backwards down the stairs, she reaches for a non-existent lifeline.
The back of her head hits the third step from the bottom with a muted thud. Her body slides to the bottom of the stairs and lays there motionless.
The phones rings and echoes through the house. The answer machine kicks in.
A mans voice is heard stating his displeasure with the current circumstances; there are tones of restrained anger in his voice. The home is silent.
The baby slowly wakes up and looks up at the half painted ceiling. It is cold. She begins to cry. She cries till her nappy is full then continues to cry.
She grows hungry then thirsty. She cries till she has such little energy she falls back to sleep, when she awakes even more hungry and thirsty and uncomfortable she continues crying.
She thinks of the faint, wispy voice that she used to hear.
She weeps and screams and sobs till her tiny stomach is empty and the hunger is all her undeveloped mind can think about,
and the dried shit inside her nappy scratches at her as she moves and she gets increasingly dizzy, dehydrated and drowsy.
Then she stops crying.