Mama | Sophie L Macdonald


Sophie L Macdonald

The Gift of Returning Award

I can see her sitting under the Christmas tree; she is sobbing. I can peer at her world through this inky blue veil, and sometimes I reach towards her, but there is always more distance than I think and my hand never quite makes it.

Her tears look like sapphires through this veil, but they don’t shine. They are like little blue holes in space, and they take my breath away.

She is holding a present she bought for me. It was the first thing she chose when she knew I was a girl—a pink dress with frilly bloomers to go over a nappy. Her tears are darkening it—turning it into a silhouette of a thing. If she doesn’t stop then it may disappear like me.

I want to hold her—tell her that I will return, but she can’t hear me. It’s cold, and my feet slip and slide on the ground like ice. I don’t know how long I have been here, but it feels like a mistake. I don’t think I was meant to fall out of her world.

I close my eyes, and I imagine the veil falling away; the world turning into every colour of the rainbow, and her warm hands holding me. I picture myself biting, tearing, clawing my way through, and sitting on her lap. I am so close.

“It wasn’t meant to be.” That’s what people told her. “It wasn’t the right time.” Banal, hurtful, as if there was a point to it—as if I didn’t just disappear for no reason at all, like a candle flickering out, or a leaf blowing on the breeze.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’ll try again.”

She can’t hear me.

I stare hard through the veil, and picture it turning to liquid—melting into a blue puddle at my feet, so I can take one careful step after another, and get it right this time. But perhaps it would be a flood, and carry us all away: me, her, and the Christmas tree.

I close my eyes again.

She is humming a tune. I remember this song—she has sung it to me before. It’s a song she sings only to me. I can see the notes in the air—hazy little puffs, floating up and down like a dandelion clock.

One lodges in the veil next to me. I put my hand there, and I can feel it—soft, warm, feathery. I pluck at it and, slowly, it slides through the veil until it is in the palm of my hand.

She suddenly stops her song, looking surprised. She is staring at me. She touches her stomach. I am holding my breath.

A loud ringing noise breaks the spell. I see it in the air—five golden rings, with not a hint of blue. She stands and answers her telephone.

“Yes,” she says, and then: “Are you sure? Really? Thank you! Thank you so much!” She drops the phone, and now her tears are sparkling diamonds. She falls to her knees.

I am with her now, back in her world. I feel her heartbeat through mine, and it is warm and red here. I am safe. This time will be different.

“I’ve come back to you, Mama,” I say. She can’t hear me yet, but she strokes her stomach as if she did.

“Stay with me,” she whispers.

I will. I will