The afternoon sunlight filled the dark room at the back of the house; slim French windows offering natural light. Various table lamps and a tall standard placed uncomfortably beside the upright piano in one corner. At this time of year, the room was brightened further by apple blossom – first magenta buds then a mass of white petals. Standing under the trees in the early evening, the scent was subtle but extraordinary – a secret, perfumed room that extended only to the tips of the branches. Lasting two or three days in this heat, when it would float down and cover the wooden deck like confetti, quickly browning and disappearing. Unbelievable that it was ever there.
Marie sat on the single chair, looking out through the windows. At first, she’d felt alert – active! – baking, cleaning, watching – the birds, the neighbours, the Police. But, lately, she’d felt the draw of gravity, inert. The silence in the house a heavy blanket, pinning her down. Unable to rouse herself to pick up a book or turn on the television, she had found herself in the chair, waiting.
Yet today was different. Her forehead ‘full’. Full of words. Unsaid, unspoken, unexpressed. Building up and rising to the surface. At first, this realisation had been pleasant but it had slowly transformed into something like apprehension. A ‘fizzy’ feeling in her wrists extending up her arms, settling in her chest and stomach, becoming more of an ache. By early afternoon, it had spread to her thighs, reaching down her legs to her toes. It hurt. Marie looked to her left at the telephone, dusty and prone on the small corner table. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d dialed a number. Or even why. She looked down at her hands, resting on her knees. Raising them to the arms of the chair, the movement caused her to rise up out of the chair, bending her knees and standing, stepping forwards to push at the handles of the French windows. A single word rose slowly in her throat. She breathed in deeply, the word starting to form on her tongue. Feeling the cold air on her face and body, she looked up, breathed out and opened her mouth.
Lotie Parker was born in London, grew up in Newcastle and still lives in the North of England. Having finished her first novel last year, she is now working on her second novel alongside writing flash fiction inspired by the pandemic and lockdown. One of her stories will be published later in the year.