Trouble starts when the mother comes home one day looking happy; a smile on her face as she fumbles with the keys to unlock the door. The little girl only stops staring at the box television screen when the mother switches on the light. The little girl smiles and whispers, “Hello mother.” The mother shuts the door. She is excited. The little girl goes back to watching Cow and Chicken.
The father comes home later at night. The mother was first into the garage today and so he packs the blue Mark X outside, near the bedroom window. He runs into the house and slams the door behind him, it’s raining outside. The little girl looks at him, “Father, you are back.”
The father glances around the sitting room, glad to be home. The office is no place for him.
The mother is in the kitchen and the aroma of browning onions and garlic deliciously fills the house. A knife hits the chopping board. Something scrumptious is being prepared.
He hangs his coat on the hook that’s on the wall and starts towards the kitchen. The little girl looks at him and retreating, he remembers he hasn’t removed his shoes. He removes the socks too and tucking them inside the shoes, he starts whistling a song the little girl has never heard before.
She stares back at the TV screen. The wind blows hard outside and the lights have gone out. The kitchen door squeaks as it closes behind the father.
The little girl remains seated on the sofa. She is not scared of the dark. She hears her mother’s giggles in the dark. Dinner must be ready now. Candle-lit dinner. She gets up to go see.
Running her fingers on the cold wall, she traces her way to the kitchen. The wall is wet; it’s weeping. It does that every time it rains. A small light seeps under the kitchen door. She can’t see their shadows. She pushes the door. It’s locked. She wants to get in. She can’t.
She wants to bang the door but the mother taught her it’s rude to do so. So her back leans on the door and she slides down until her weight rests on the floor. It’s cold. Her blue dress will get dirty. The mother will scold her and she doesn’t want that.
She presses her ear on the door. She wants to know why the mother is so happy today. She hears the mother’s laughter echo through the closed door. The mother is laughing at the father’s jokes. She never does. She knows the mother hates those jokes and the father is not a funny person. The mother asks the father to reach behind him and get her handbag. At dinner? The little girl wonders. The mother must have gotten a promotion at work. Sales Manager? She smiles.
They are both silent now. The mother must be looking through the contents of her bag.
“I’m pregnant! Three weeks!” The mother exclaims.
The little girl gets up from the floor startled and confused. She is going to have a baby brother. Or sister. Or both. Twins. She places her hands against the door. The door is cold. The door never gets closed. She presses her small round face against the door, and beneath her chest, a dull ache begins and spreads outwards.
The father is silent. He is unhappy, she can tell. The mother can tell too. It’s too soon.
“But it’s been five months since we lost our baby girl!” The mother yells.
The father is silent. He knows and remembers all too well that hot afternoon in March when their little girl fell down the stairs and broke her neck.
The father had been home alone with her.
The ambulance came too late.
The little girl is hungry now. Angry too.
Mother will scold her but she needs to get in. She wants to tell the mother to get away from the father.
She bangs at the door with her tiny fists but
no one hears her over mother’s cries. No one will.