THE HAIRDRYER

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“Hurry up!”

My daughter, under-dressed for the chilly winter weather, hair wet from her shower, apparently needs a lift to Argos to get a new hairdryer now that mine is broken. She’s standing by the car, bouncing impatiently.

“Shit shit shit! I’m going to be late.”

A few minutes ago, I had asked her where she was going.

It doesn’t matter where I’m going,” She had shouted.

It’s aways urgent. It never matters why.

I’m cold without my coat.

I unlock the car, and Sadie hurls herself in.

“Get in the car! Come on!”

Argos is a fifteen minute drive. The first set of traffic lights are green. I exhale, relieved, but I have to brake suddenly when the second set turn red. My hands are shaking.

Sadie is yelling that I should have jumped the lights. The rushing sound in my ears is getting louder.

At the store, Sadie grabs my debit card from my hand and runs in. She’s back within a few minutes with a shiny black box and a benign smile.

“Thanks mum,” she says.

It’s over. My Sadie is back.

At home, I unlock the front door and limp into the house behind Sadie. She casually steps over the dried honesty which still lies where it fell, and her feet crunch on the broken glass in the hallway. As she ascends the stairs, I see that her hair is almost dry now.

I follow the burning smell into the kitchen and turn the oven off, then remove the blackened birthday cake. It was almost ready to come out of the oven when we left. I don’t feel like making another one for her, but I expect I will. I can’t ignore my daughter’s birthday.

I scan the kitchen. The damage is largely superficial this time, although there is some broken glass and china on the floor, and sugar everywhere. I notice the ache in my bruised back as I bend down to pick up the carving knife and place it in the sink.

The tidying up will have to wait. I put the kettle on to boil, and go upstairs to the bathroom.

I don’t want to look at the 2 inch slit in my jeans. I get a clean sponge and soak the area where the blood has dried, sticking the denim to my calf. I shouldn’t have turned my back on her. I shouldn’t have said no.

I take my jeans off, and pull the cut together with adhesive stitches. I can’t go to A&E. They didn’t believe the last story, and their kindly questions made my throat swell painfully.

In the sitting room, the cracked hairdryer lies on the floor. I drop it in the bin and huddle on the sofa with my cup of sweet tea. I stare at the wall. I should clean up, but I feel too heavy to stand.

The next time I will call the police. The next time.

If I can.

© Jane Paterson Basil

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