Shes the little girl with flaxen curls at four pm flouncing down her driveway with her hands buried in her pockets, lips pressed out like shes whistling. Youll watch her out your window, with your tea lukewarm on the sill, and splutter a cough; fogging up the glass just enough to miss her smile.
You saw her once, twice eating petals off the roses in your garden. Youve forgotten how to converse with children, you cussed between the wheezing and she stared right past like you were simply a knurled twig catching the wind in its leaves.
One morning you found her; purple stockings, blush mittens and a head of sunlight curls- asleep with your cat, Ginger, in your backyard. Her face was lost in the fur and repose and she slept soundly as you cut through her curls, knife icy in your recycled paper fingers. You tied a ribbon around the hair and sewed it in to your next doll. You named her Lucy and stitched a red heart into her chest. At nighttime the beating is so loud you move her to the bathroom with the door closed. You never tried removing the pins.
You dont remember your dreams, but you remembered this one.
The faded leather couch whispered to the veins in your arms and the creases and wrinkles in your hands that she was coming. She was coming dressed in white, with her doe eyes and her shrunken frame; but you were ready. Time skipped in places. Your fragile hands pushed her skull against the floor of the bathtub (you read somewhere babies craniums are soft when they are just born) her skeleton was lithe and you felt it bending in to the arch of the tub. Suddenly the skin on her back was filled with tiny holes and as you pressed needles down into her skin, tearing through the blank skin/the gaps, she wailed. Her back contorted and she struggled as the needles tore up her soft skin and she bit down hard enough to take the leafy skin off your knee. But the sun reeked through your eyelids and you woke.
You had a child once. Peter with mousey brown hair and a long spine. You never saw him much. He never sees you much. You broke his ribs with the wooden legs of a chair and you read him fairytales, kissing his forehead before he slept.
Shes out there with her skipping rope in the morn. Out there drowning in clouds and dew and singing the songs she learnt in prep school. Theres age-old darts next to your hollow knuckles, theyre blunt at the ends and your hand stutters towards them for a moment but misses and falls on the handle of your china teacup. The tea you make always tastes like stale earth and soot, but you like it.
Shes skipping tirelessly, her feet kicking at the ground in a perpetual rhythm, you blink and she seems closer. You close your eyes a moment and when you open you can reach out and stroke her freckles, tear her eyelashes out one by one or pierce her rose cheeks with a dart. The beat resonates throughout your eardrums and you contemplate chains, locks and heavy duty duct tape. She plants her red shoes by the door as she always does.
You havent left your yard in years. One afternoon you promised the weeds you would, you brought them to your face and snarled, telling them youd give up and leave this place, leave them to overthrow the flowers, strangle them in a dirty brown mess of veins. They wilted as you exhaled. That was August;
That August she had a birthday party. You swore you could smell helium, it was musky and found residence in the back of your oesophagus; you willed the wine to wash it away. The noise soared and balloons sailed off through the blue, you tied the little girl to them in your mind and snickered. She was a tiny speck of flailing limbs beyond the clouds, suspended by red- you wished she could picture the fall but instead you fell asleep.
Afterwards you unearthed her necklace from below the grass and you hung it from your bedpost, pendant dangling like a spider from a chain web.
Shes the little girl, blonde fringe tasting long eyelashes, at four oh eight pm trudging down her driveway, eyes soaken up like shes crying. You coughed and fogged up the glass with ancient breath and specks of saliva as she noticed the carved hollows of your face, jutting elbows on your windowpane and splintered lips. Fogging up the glass just enough- to miss her see right through you.