Not so long ago.
The cottage is a perfect square; except it is without sharp corners, it is as if they have been filed down with the heaviness of time, so maybe it is not in fact a perfect square after all. It was once white, searing bright against a dark brooding sky but is now a sickening magnolia. The green door with a slight hue of yellow and sometimes blue depending on the light, sits off centre to the right, throwing off its symmetry but that doesn’t matter, everything about the cottage is ever so slightly askew. It is angled away from the road and toward the cliffs where the light house’s illuminating glow can be seen from a distance. The wide path is also bent and winds twice before reaching the full stop that is the door. Thick grey paint traces the lines of the windows and doorframe making them look like large gaping holes as the day’s light brightens and diminishes. Nothing grows alongside the path, at least not anymore; it is empty save for a ground covering of couch grass and chickweed.
The cottage is small and uncharacteristic, even on the cusp of appearing soulless. It hadn’t always been this way. It had been rich in flora and fauna and tended to with meticulous care and devotion. This home has held five generations of the same family within its thick walls. Changes have been miniscule save for a freshen up of paint every five years or so- always a brilliant white. There have been alterations in furniture with changes in fashion, but its bones remain, its cavity unchanged and holds now one life when not long ago it held two: a mother and daughter.
It wasn’t the first time her mother had pleaded her to help end her life. She would scream and scratch at her own face before pounding her head with her palms creating a dull thumping sound until she calmed down. Nobody could soothe her or make her stop, she had to do it herself once she became tired and self-conscious. She never had these moments of hysteria in front of anyone else other than her daughter. She saved all her darkness for her. These uncontrollable moments terrified Leyla and in a way, the shock of this behaviour stayed with her for the rest of her life. Towards the end, Leyla’s life had been filled with her mother’s screaming, she would cry from the pain as if it were tearing her apart from within. Blame would then be hurtled at her, telling her how heartless she was and although this may have been true, Leyla did not become unfeeling by choice but by circumstance. It was self-preservation.
Leyla’s mother was the type of person who talked at people rather than conversed. She spoke in statements making it hard to respond or engage and her narratives often opened into long soliloquies that by the time she had finished and fled the scene it would take a while for Leyla’s mind to digest what her mother had said. She could be mean, for whenever her mother spoke, it always seemed to reveal something of Leyla’s being, usually about her lacki5ng . This left her feeling insecure and exposed and so she began finding ways in which she could remain hidden. There was a closing off and a shutting down.
Then one day Leyla finally met her limit as people so often do, when she could no longer listen to her mother’s pleas as they thundered and reverberated within her cranium. Her mother’s spittle sprayed upon her own cheek, her outburst far more terrifying than previous eruptions; her self- inflicted beatings upon her head left red raw fingerprints across her forehead and so it was this day when Leyla’s heart filled with a rush of love for her mother that she finally said yes.
Ten minutes after her mother’s frenzy, she had administered a dose of morphine that would put an end to her mother’s pain.
And then she walked out of the door.