I can count up to 22 before she looks up, but she won’t look at me. She will stare at the television again today. People are shouting, and someone is fighting but I don’t know why. I think they are sad. A man wants to hit another man. I don’t know why Mumma likes this programme. It is on the television every day. This and people buying old things. She just looks at them but they are happy. Perhaps they like the old things. Mumma likes new things.
She has new things today. They are upstairs. On her bed.
Daddy is not with us. I have never seen him but once Mumma told me about him. He is living with another lady and he doesn’t love me. This is because he has another boy. Not me, another one. I don’t know his name. She says it is best like this with just the two of us.
I count up to 22 until she looks away from the people buying old things on the television. She doesn’t look at me though. She looks away.
Today the lady is with Mumma. She came early but I don’t know when. Mumma was not dressed. Now she sits on the sofa with her. I think she is Mumma’s friend. A new one. She was here yesterday too. The lady isn’t watching the television. She is trying to talk to Mumma, but Mumma doesn’t speak. She just looks.
I try to speak to the lady but I don’t know her name so I just call for Mumma. The lady doesn’t talk to me. She just wants to talk to Mumma.
I move because I can hear something outside. I stand in the other corner of the room, but they don’t see me go. I call again. And this time Mumma stands up and goes to the window. She says a man has come. He is walking up to our door, and I hear the doorbell go. It sounds nice.
The lady says she will go to the door, but Mumma says it is her house. It is mine too but she doesn’t tell the lady this. The lady says she will go to the door again but Mamma is already in the hallway.
I can hear voices. There are voices on the television and voices in the hallway. A man’s voice and Mumma’s voice. I can’t hear what they are saying, because of the buying programme but then they come into this room and the man is sad. He is saying he is sorry, and Mumma is crying now, and the man is saying sorry again.
I call out at the top of my voice but they are too busy to hear me. The lady says the man must go. He mustn’t be here, and he says Please! Mumma is very upset now and the man is holding his head in his hands and I call out Mumma!
This time she does not wait for me to count to 22. She looks at me but then she looks away again. The lady tells the man to go, and she takes his arm and they go outside in the hallway. Mumma stays.
I hear the door bang. Not loud like sometimes but soft. The lady comes back and says it is better if Mumma doesn’t see the man. I think the man might be bad.
Mumma’s phone rings. She likes the phone. She says Hello and then she listens. I think someone is speaking to her. She doesn’t speak much. She just listens. The lady goes to our kitchen. I listen. I listen a lot. I think it is Mumma’s mumma. I can tell because Mumma never says a word, just listens to the voice which never stops. The lady comes out of the kitchen with two cups. She puts one in front of Mumma and she drinks one. She doesn’t give me a cup.
Mumma was awake early today. I know because I was in her room upstairs. It is next to my room. My room is at the back, and her room is at the front. Her eyes were open wide but she just stared at the ceiling. I stood by her bed and watched. I did not call her because she should be sleeping. But I watched and I liked that. I like being with Mumma. I saw her get out of bed and then she went out. To our bathroom. Then she came back but she didn’t get back into her bed. This is when I saw her take her new clothes out of a bag. I whispered to her, but it was too soft for her to hear and she left the room with the new clothes on the bed.
I walk to another corner of the room now.
I hear the doorbell again. This time the lady goes into the hallway and Mumma stays. When the lady goes I call Mumma’s name. I know she will not answer me. I think she doesn’t love me. Like my Daddy.
And when I get to 22 she looks up.
I hear voices from outside, and I hear the lady say Thank you to someone. This means someone has done something kind. The lady comes back and tells Mumma about the kind person, and I think I can see Mumma smile. Just a little bit. This is the first smile I have seen Mumma do for two weeks. Then the lady gives Mumma some flowers. They are from the kind person. I walk to the flowers but Mumma snatches them away and throws them on the big table. The lady says she will find something to put the flowers in. Then they will look nice.
The lady tells Mumma she has to go upstairs now. Mumma says No, she can’t go, but the lady says she must. It is time to get ready. Get ready for what? I must get ready too, I think. Mumma says Please no. The lady says Yes now, but softly and Mumma goes.
I watch Mumma leave the room and I go and stand in the last corner of the room. I watch the lady. She turns the television off. She goes into the kitchen. I wait. I try one last time, using all my force to call out. Mumma! Mumma!
After 22 the lady comes back with a jar for the flowers and she puts them in it. They look very nice. The lady goes to the window. She looks out. And then she waves to someone outside. She goes out into the hallway again and I can hear some other voices.
Mumma comes into the room. It is very quiet now. She is wearing the new clothes but she is sad. I don’t know why because she likes new clothes. I decide to speak to her now, to whisper words that I think she will like, instead of just calling to get her attention. And I say, Mumma, you look nice. You look so nice in your new clothes. I think you look so beautiful.
And I think she looks at me. For the first time in a long time she looks at me, and I tell her I am sorry for letting go of her hand when we were outside and I am sorry for running off and into the road and I am sorry that I went in front of the car that ran over me and made me gone away. I am sorry, Mumma.
And the lady comes into the room and tells Mumma that it is time to go now…
Lee has been writing short stories for just under a year. In this time he has had two accepted for publication, and he has been short-listed for a prestigious competition. He often writes about his own experiences, or he bases his work around a piece of news he has heard. Sometimes he just takes a single idea that intrigues him. He is currently working on a series of short stories with linking characters.
If you enjoyed From a Corner of the Room, leave a comment and let Lee know.
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