I hear the thuds, three of them, heavy and sour like green fruit. I run towards the noise, but my hand won’t find the handle of my bedroom door. I can’t open it. I push my forehead and palms against the wood, squeeze my eyes shut. One fingertip blindly finds a chip in the paint. I keep my finger there, pressing until it hurts.
My breathing sounds weird. I count backwards, hoping time will unwind and I can swallow those sounds back down inside me on the last breath—three, two, one. I forget to say zero. It won’t count. Will it?
It’s hard to tell if anything has changed. If I open my door, spill light out onto the landing, my roller skates could still be sitting there where I left them. I’d rather just believe it’s true, because if they’re not there it means they are laying at the bottom of the stairs with her.
She might just be waiting for me to come and say sorry. She often does that. I imagine her standing, arms crossed, in the dark. She’ll be angry, and holding them up by the laces with her ‘I told you so’ face. Then she will finally put them in the bin, those silver roller skates I waited so long for. Whenever she looks at them, she always says, “Your bloody dad.” And it makes me think about what it would be like living at his house.
But the thuds. I make deals with myself. I will be better, do what she tells me, put my things away, be good. I turned the lights off because of the bills, like she told me to. This time I had remembered.
I wish I hadn’t.
I’ll try counting again to zero, counting and breathing in this time. And then I will look.