AIR TO BREATHE | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Mystery Bookmark and Share


Air to breathe her mother had said need air to breathe and Alice watched her gasping right to the end and that time it was the end no mistake and it wasn’t every child that could wait and watch her mother go not out of any spite or revenge just a kind of wondering what would happen of its own accord after all she told herself if I wasn’t here it would have happened and I am not that skilled in medical things and I guess it would take some kind of skill after all she later told herself pulling a cover over her mother’s body making sure it was neat and tidy and all the limbs were straight and the eyes closed and the mouth sealed shut with cello tape just in case it fell open and words came out it would have helped if her father had been around to show her what to do but he wasn’t he was in the basement under the floor covered in that fresh cement but that was some time ago now before her mother got sick and she asked where’s your father gone Alice? but she didn’t tell her never let on that she’d stabbed him with the knife from the kitchen when he tried to make her do it once more on the basement floor she’d had enough and the knife was there beside her because her father had brought it down to frighten her and she just grabbed it while he was trying to removed her underwear and brought it angrily into his back and it stuck there and her father looked at her as if he was about to say something but he just stared and blood dripped from his lips falling on her cheek as if he were speaking blood words red words and she pushed him off  and he fell sideways and lay staring at the dull ceiling all grey dingy with the one light bulb giving out its light and she gazed at him just gazed at his eyes staring and blood falling from the sides of his mouth and waited in case he turned and said things to her those rude words her mother said she wasn’t supposed to say but he said nothing he was still and silent and vacant as if he’d left home without saying goodbye and mother said it was bad mannered not to say goodbye before you left but mother never knew where he’d gone she thought maybe he’d gone on one of his drunken wanders as he did now and then but always came back but not this time Alice told herself not this time no more of him creeping into her room and into her bed and doing those things no more of that she said and it took her some nights hard digging to dig a hole deep enough for his body and once she had she tipped him in and he fell with a thud to the bottom and she filled in the hole with fresh cement from a bag her father had stacked out back and other old cement she carted out night after night while her mother slept and hid it behind the old woodshed where her mother never went now her mother’s body needed burying but not in the basement not there not with him no she would find another place somewhere quiet and secluded out of nosey people’s sight somewhere where birds came because her mother liked birds liked the songs they sang maybe in the orchard that small apple orchard would be the place yes there would be best she thought and so she found a quiet spot  and dug a hole deep enough making sure no one saw her not that they had many visitors but she had to be careful just in case and once the hold was dug she carried her mother’s body in the cover out to the hole and dropped her in and she kind of fell sideways on but it would have to do Alice thought cursing with the words her father used but her mother said was rude those there words will get you to Hell girl her mother would say when her husband would curse at her or Alice now as she stared at her mother’s body there in the hole she felt kind of sad as if it could have been otherwise could have been better but there you go shit happens her father used to say and she filled in the hole with the damp earth and once it was filled in she jumped up and down on it to flatten it out the best she could but there was still a mound on the ground but it will go down in time she told herself it will flatten and so after saying a few prayers from her mother’s black prayer book and trudged back to the house and there on the front porch sitting in the rocking chair was that young feller from across the fields who said he had a love for her and sometimes came visiting with bunches of flowers from his parents’ garden or candy or such stuff and she stared at him rocking there in the rocking chair with that stupid grin he wore and his hair watered down in a neat short back and side sort she wondered what he wanted what was his ultimate goal she didn’t fancy more work of digging another hole.


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