My mother’s bed

Frankie McMillan 2014

here she is, the unhurried length of her under the blue candlewick. She is reading again. This time it’s ‘The Sparrow,’ a biography of Edif Piaf.

When It gets lonely in the house we lie on her bed, our voices singing like Sunday. There is a squabble over who will get up and make the tea. My mother gives a dramatic sigh. She shifts a layer of newspaper from the bed to find her purse. She pays my sister a shilling to make a pot of tea and a tray of cheese scones. But it has to stop, my mother says. Other children, proper children would do it for nothing.

Eventually her bed becomes an island and we have to swim over to get to her. Arms and legs flailing over the rising mess. ‘Get up. Get up’ we say. But my mother raises the book higher. Then one day Edith Piaf gets lost in the tide and my mother holds up her pale arms like a woman, drowning. ‘You win, you win,’ she cries.