This is an extract from my manuscript Home
The past, the cottage.
The cottage is a perfect square; except it is without sharp corners, as if they have been filed down by the heaviness of time. 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, set to the right, throws off its symmetry. Everything about the cottage is ever so slightly askew. It is angled away from the road, facing the cliffs where the lighthouse’s illuminating glow can be seen from a distance. The wide path is also bent and twists twice before reaching the full stop of 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. It had once 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 were miniscule save for a freshen up of paint every five years or so – always that brilliant white. Furniture has altered as fashions have come and gone, but its bones remain, its cavity unchanged and holds now one life when not long ago it held two.
It wasn’t the first time her mother had pleaded with her to end her life. She would scream and scratch at her face, pounding her head with her palms with a dull thumping sound until she calmed down. Nobody could soothe her or make her stop. Only when she had exhausted herself- or suddenly felt self-conscious – would she stop. She never had these moments of hysteria in front of anyone else. She saved all her darkness for her. These uncontrollable moments terrified Leyla. Towards the end, her days were 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, the heartless daughter, and although this may have been true, Leyla had not become unfeeling by choice.
Leyla’s mother was the type of person who talked at people rather than conversed. She spoke in statements, her narratives opening into long soliloquies. These proclamations would sit upon Leyla’s mind until they became digested and permanently assimilated. Whenever her mother spoke, her stories seemed to reveal something of Leyla’s lacking 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’s will broke. 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 left red raw fingerprints across her forehead and a wildness in her eyes Leyla knew would never go away. So it was on this day, Leyla’s heart filling with a rush of love for her mother, that she finally said yes.
Ten minutes after her mother’s frenzy, she administered a dose of morphine that would put an end to her mother’s pain.
And then she walked out of the door.
She did not return till early evening. She had spent the afternoon walking the cliffs, where the wind buffeted her as if a large pair of invisible arms had taken a hold and thrust her from one side to the other. The sky held a menacing light and she feared that her secret was visibly scrawled upon her face.
As she stood at her door at dusk, hues of orange and pink danced upon the green wood. There was an unmistakable heaviness in the air, bulky and solid. She knew it was her mother’s death she could sense, emanating like a stench from the confines beyond. She told herself it was only right she should die there, rather than a soulless hospice an island away. As she stepped over the threshold, her breath and body began to vibrate as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She realised now that she had made the wrong decision. And in the room beyond, her mother was waiting.
In the weeks that followed, the town watched Leyla. They noticed how this peculiar woman was transforming into something even stranger, becoming twisted and gnarled as if growing and facing in the wrong direction.
She understood she could never be a part of anything or anyone else, for there was too much danger.
She was afraid of being revealed.