by Yvette Managan
right winter light filters through lace curtains and casts eerie shadows on the ash flooring. I watch the squares of molded sunlight shift and dance in the breeze that comes from the cracked-open window. I am hiding under the table, peeking between its steel legs. She doesn’t see me – the linen tablecloth hangs low and settles on the seats of the chairs that belong on the longer sides of the table.Mother’s legs move efficiently, from the enameled kitchen sink to the table and back again. Her heels click against the floor. The printed cotton of her calf-length skirt swishes against her stockings. Tiny grease stains mar the starched white apron that protects Mother’s front.
She smashes her knee against a chair and stumbles. “Oh darn!” she cries out. A glass bowl falls and shatters at her feet. A cloud of fine flour rises up and slowly settles over the kitchen. “What a mess.”
I scoot back, out of the path of the flying glass. My body presses against the cold wall. I clamp my eyelids shut. My heart pounds in my chest. Blood rushes in my head. My breathing is loud. I know she can hear me. I cup my lips and nose with my hands to muffle the sound.
Mother’s legs pass to the refrigerator. She pulls the broom from between it and the wall. She sweeps.
The steady sound of the broom as it passes over the floor is louder than my breathing. I relax and open my eyes.
The bristles leave tight flour trails as they go by. Soon a small pile of specked flour collects in the middle of the room, with delicate lines radiating outwards toward the walls.
“What are you doing here?”
I startle. Mother is squatting at the far end of the table. Her soft face smiles and she reaches for me. “Silly Goose. Are you hiding again?”