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By Holly Sismore


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The sea air smelt blue.


Home smells of red, dark red for anger and frustration - Pale pink, smudges

of mauve, bruises on bruises. In my imagination, home smells of yellow,

loving and comforting, happiness gathered up like silk in dark corners,

turning them to pools of sunshine, pools you can dip your feet into and walk

about in. At home you can take the sunshine with you wherever you go.

At the edge of the sea, the ripples in the water are dark velvet blue, like

an ocean of sadness.


Seven seas of despair, seven years to try and forget.


I turn away, and look behind me. I blink quickly, drinking in the bright

lights of the pier and a child’s laughter. Victorian sepia film-reel,

flickering images. I never felt so calm. So alone and so separate from chaos

and melancholy.


My cool hands settled on my stomach. Like a butterfly’s beating wings in a

jar, I felt my child drift inside me.


Lazy Sunday mornings were spent cocooned in sleepwaking and the soft cotton

of white sheets, spooned inside his arms, thinking about the future.

Safe-time for a second.. then I had to watch my breathing - sometimes I dared

to cough, or move. Other times I lay silent until he woke and my day



His face when he slept, belied his true nature. He was a sleeping child at

night, fists clenched and drawn up pointing at his chin, awake he was this

animal, cunning and frightened by turns, laughing like a hyena and cowering

like a dog.


I tried. God loves a trier, and I tried. Hard. Hard was the feeling in my

stomach, every time he came at me. A knotted-and-tied ball of fear that I

pushed down inside myself, I wanted to fight back, but every time I raised my

arms...down and down and down, again and again and again, punching me and

punishing me for my affection, my feelings, dividing my self-worth like

perverse binary fission, splitting and punching and kicking and dividing

with each passing day.


Sometimes, I have these nightmares - my unborn child becomes him, and

punches right out of my stomach. Often I dream of giving birth to that ball

of fear, hatred and anger like a pulsing membrane around it. It screams, and

I wake alone to cool night air, gulping it down like life elixir, beads of

sweat opalescent in the moonlight, and I watch

them disappear as my heart beat settles. I stroke my ever-rising stomach,

and as I calm, I smile in the darkness. We are safe.