Mummy pretends to be happy but I know she’s not. Her smiles are just a trick. Same as her hugs.
‘Come here and give Mummy a cuddle,’ she says, and then she squeezes me so hard that I can’t move. Her eyes are closed but that doesn’t stop the tears. I want to scream at her to let me go but my mouth won’t work and the words get stuck. Daddy comes into the kitchen but he doesn’t look at us. I wish I was bigger.
‘We better get going,’ he says. Then he tells me to go and get a toy for the car. I gasp for breath when she lets me go and I run as fast as I can to my room.
My beautiful ballerina. Just a few twists and she is dancing again, round and round in her shiny pink dress. No one is speaking in the car and Daddy asks me if I want to be a ballerina one day. He doesn’t notice that I don’t answer or that Mummy is crying again. She is sniffling and sighing and every few minutes she lets out a little whimper. She is like a scared puppy and I want to reach out to touch her but I don’t. Daddy turns up the radio.
I don’t know where we’re going. I hope we’re going to see Jake. We keep going to visit him at the big garden but he’s never there. There are never any babies there. I whisper to my ballerina that everything is ok. Daddy says to shut that thing up so I stop playing her music in case they send her away too. I promise her that I’ll leave the box open. No more dancing though. She will have to be quiet.
Theresa Power studied English and Sociology at Maynooth University. Her work has previously been published in Spinebind. She lives in Dublin and is currently working on a number of creative projects.