Living With It by Gaynor Jones

Fiction

When I was eleven years old I killed my sister. Of course, she’s fine now.

The rainy October day my sister was born, Grandma dragged me to the hospital. My ladybird umbrella pitter-pattered water behind me as I navigated the slick, tiled corridors. Puddle after tiny puddle trailed in my wake. I stood at the end of the bed trying not to heave at the dried blood on Mum’s gown. I twirled my umbrella, staring at the blurred pattern until Mum stood to pass my sister to me. Shuffling in her hospital slippers, she was too blinded by love or exhaustion to notice the rain water pooling at my feet. Until she slipped. The bundle of my sister flew up towards the fluorescent lights then down, down, down. The tiny cotton hat offered no protection for my sister’s doll-like skull as it crashed and smashed open on the floor.

Then I was holding her. Eyes barely open, she reached out and hooked my fingers in hers. Mum asked me if I was alright, so I dutifully smiled and nodded. And pushed the imagined sight of the bloody floor away.

I never used an umbrella again.

After many experiments I’ve settled on a hooded anorak with kitchen roll secreted in the pockets to clean up any drips. Sometimes I follow more careless people into shops, pretend I’ve dropped something close to them, then crouch down and wipe up minute droplets of water. I try to be surreptitious but the security guards make it difficult. I told one once that I was performing a public service, really. He nodded and smiled politely as he steered me toward the door.

*

The wet days on the bus are the worst. I watch, tense, as the rivulets sluice and slide off shoes, raincoats, the dreaded umbrellas, down the steps, onto the floor. My heart beats through my chest as I examine all the passenger’s shoes. Once I tried to warn a woman in spiky heels but she only smiled at me – ‘It’s Manchester, love, we’ve seen worse rain than this.’ But then I saw her. Distracted by her phone, reaching for the stop button, teetering, slipping. The crunch of her nose as it collided with the seat top. White bone piercing right through to her brain. Next the familiar sirens, the statements, the soothing words.

Then there she was, smiling through the steamy bus window at me as she wrestled her umbrella up and tottered off towards the shops.

I’ve tried therapy, counting to ten, pinching myself, closing my eyes. Medication’s next but the irony of my condition is I’m too anxious to try it. So this is how I live. With constant flashes of death, disaster, destruction. All played out in my head in seconds of minute detail, dozens and dozens of times a day.

Anyway, I’ve got to pick my sister up from school now. But at least it’s not raining, so hopefully I won’t kill her today.

 

Biography
Gaynor Jones is a stay at home Mum and freelance writer from Manchester. Twitter: @jonzeywriter

Image: Reza Shayestehpour