[Mother and Daughter]
It was a day like all others.
She awoke as light found its way through the gap in the gaudy pink and orange and blue-grey curtains hanging untidily from their rail. For a moment she had to make herself remember where she was. She sat up and moved to the edge of the small bed and her cool feet slid onto shiny carpet, her toes feeling for the familiar comfort of sheep-skin lined scuffs. She slipped on a worn dressing gown and wandered down towards the dining room for the usual chewy toast, spread thinly with margarine and vegemite. A cup of milky tea in a chipped china cup accompanying it.
Thoughts gathering she made her way back to her bedroom to get dressed and decided on the blue frock with small white flowers, the sandals with polished metal buckles and the apricot cardigan with just the smallest bit of pilling on the sleeves.
She applied a smear of bright red lipstick to her small thin lips, a swipe of pink blusher over each high cheek bone and five pats of nude powder; forehead, cheek, cheek, nose, chin. A quick blend taking the powder beneath her sharp jaw line. Blue eye makeup lifted her soft, grey eyes from their shadowy hollows.
Her one and only handbag, leather, faded, cracked, with short round handles was pulled onto her forearm.
Time to make her way to the bus stop.
Her narrow shoulders showed just a hint of roundedness as she set off. Her gait was quick and her steps short. Her eyes were focused slightly into the distance and she almost failed to see the man with wispy, white hair walk in front of her. “Morning Sadie”, he mumbled towards the ground as he adjusted the walking frame he leant on, “Nice day for it.” “Yes I’m off to catch the bus,” she replied in a spirited tone, the corners of her mouth lifting into the beginnings of a smile. Pushing the handbag towards the crook of her elbow she nodded to the gent and continued on her way.
Rounding the corner a young woman with curled, blonde hair waved in greeting. “Hi, Sadie. You look as though you have somewhere to be.” “Off to the bus, lovey”, she trilled back as she continued steadily on her way.
Thoughts of what her day was to bring gave a slight spring to her step. She imagined the comfort she would find from the visit she was to make. The warm, familiar, perfumed smell as she hugged the brightly made up woman who would be waiting at the door to welcome her. The smell of hot scones wafting down the dim hallway, the promise of tart plum jam with the stones still in it, and cream whipped to perfect peaks in the white scallop-edged bowl it was always served in. Two glass tumblers would be set next to a cloudy jug of sugary lemon cordial.
The oak table would be adorned by a finely crocheted cloth, arranged in a diamond shape over the centre of it. Six lovingly crafted chairs framing it. To the side a bowl of green apples promising the sharpness that would make tongues curl for an instant before the juicy sweetness overtook tingling taste buds.
Flowers would be placed just so in the heavy crystal vase on the sideboard. They would have been gathered from the front garden before the morning sun hit it so as to preserve their freshness.
She thought how good it was going to feel to kick off her sandals at the door and toss down her bag as she passed along the dim hallway with its plush, patterned carpet. There was almost a skip to her step now as she anticipated the afternoon ahead.
Turning left she bumped into a large brown-skinned woman, dressed in pink. “Sorry, Sadie” the woman exclaimed. “You’re in a hurry!” “Bus to catch”, she called as she kept on. Things were busier now as she went past the next bend. There were more people to navigate and she was losing track of her thoughts as she clutched the handbag to her.
“Bus to catch. Bus. Bus. Must get to the bus,” she repeated to herself.
Another corner and she hurried round. Head down, each step taken in time to a chant. Bus. Bus. Bus. Bus. Bus. Her sandal caught the edge of a wispy-haired man’s walking frame. Her hands went out as she fell forward. The apricot cardigan snagged a table as she tried to stop herself. The handbag slipped along her arm and dropped to the floor. She found herself crumpled next to the wall. The contents of her bag had spilled beside her. A dried flower. A photo of a young girl and her mother. A piece of cold toast.
It was a day like all others.
- Sarah-Jane Holton