Sisters running in hallway. Laughing.
Mama bending. Messy stockings. Fluffy slippers. Lifting and looking at clothes on floor in laundry. Elbows over lid, pushing clothes in. Closes lid.
Presses button. Water whooshing. Twisting, turning, whirring, click and boom. Ooh! Dead cockroach under machine. Legs in air. Wash powder on floor.
Mama steps over me with her washing basket. Going to back door.
Front door opens. Cousins run in. Kisses for sisters, baby brother, none for me. Turn away.
Fingertips along the hallway to my room. Hungry for something. Hand under bed; blocks, dust, hair, cars, crackers, sultanas.
Open hall cupboard. Pull out vacuum. Look behind it. Just black doll, missing leg.
Children in living room. Huddled around a book. Cousin reading. Hear story before.
Back in room. Open drawers with big scratches. Fit my fingernail. Nothing fun there.
Girls run down hall, scream, hold hands, Run into big sister’s room. Bring something out. Didn’t lock it!
Run in and close door.
Pink lampshade, pink bedspread, books on shelves! White, smooth cupboard. Suck air. Smells nice. Put hand inside paper mache, pull out lolly, put it in mouth. Suck, suck, suck.
Open book drawer. Little Golden Books. Golden things. Locked away. Sit on floor, pull out books. Big pile.
She gonna be mad.
One by one, turn pages, looking, looking, looking for picture. Ah! Going to the Hospital. First page, no last page. Turning, looking, oops dirty fingers, dirty marks. Rubbing. Ooops.
She gonna be mad at me.
Last page. Aaah, pretty picture. Mummy hugging girl. Remember pretty words:
‘And Mummy put her arm around little Jemima and held her close. Everything would be alright now.’
Sit for long time. Filling me up. Want to tear out and sleep with it. Climb on pink bed. Hold book on chest.
Door opens. Sister here now: ‘She’s on my bed again, Mama! She’s got my books! Mama! Her dirty little fingers, Mama!’
Mama grabbing my arm, pulling me off, ‘Out—now!’
Sister snatches book. Rips page, me scream.
Me crying, ‘No, Mama!’ No book. No page.
Mama drags me down hall to my room. ‘Naughty girl!’ Slaps my bottom. Locks the door. Sore arm, sore bottom, wet face.
Turn, scratch drawers with the block then car.
Make better line for my fingernail.
Visnja Majewski lives and writes in Sydney, Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University, followed by scriptwriting and creative writing. She is a member of the Author’s Guild in New York and her profile is here. Her short story, ‘Bea’s Escape’ is being published in Passengers Journal this month.