Melt

 

I am writing this down because we are near the end. I can feel the sun beating down on us. There is not much time left. Was the sun worth it? No. We should have listened to our mother.

We spent the summers sitting in our freezer. All three of us. Every summer. It was a big white square thing that we climbed into in the early dawn. Mum kept it on all the time. We sat in the big ice box and ‘chilled’ all day. We had pencils and books that were endlessly soggy from the melt. The freezer was propped open so we could breathe. Mum struggled to breathe in it but we never had a problem.

We were mostly home schooled. We moved a lot in the early years. Winters weren’t so bad. We sometimes went to a local school for all of autumn and all of winter. It depended on the climate. Mum didn’t like the heat. Didn’t want us out in the sun. Ever. We never left the house in the summer. We just sat in the freezer all day. Every day. I liked the cold. I felt like it held me together. I was right. My little brother was the same.

I am writing this down because Mum wanted there to be a record. She kept telling us it’s important there’s a record. But I never saw her document anything. There never seemed to be any paperwork when she needed it. She always seemed cold in the freezer, as if she was different from us. I think sometimes she wanted the sun maybe, even though she said she didn’t. I don’t think she loved the freezer. She did it for our benefit, at least she thought that was the reason she was doing it.

It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The windows were covered. We stayed away from the light. There had been an older brother. Mum always talked about how he had gone outside and melted in the sun. Neither of us were ever able to figure out what had actually happened. We knew she was a bit odd. We did ok. We always felt loved, even if that love was a bit overprotective and paranoid.

I don’t remember social services ever coming around. I remember an aunt. Mum spent a lot of time researching climate change when she wasn’t looking after us or schooling us. We had a lot of stuff about it around the house. She was worried about the temperature rise. She talked to us, told us what we had to do. How to survive. I think she thought it was impossible but she wanted us to try.

We thought it was ok. We knew it wasn’t normal, the books told us that but we thought it was ok.

Then Mum got ill. It was autumn. She refused all medical help. Then she got more ill. Eventually that aunt came and nursed her through the final days. It was the end of winter by then. I don’t think the aunt knew what to do with us. She would peer into the freezer and wonder. She talked of another aunt who might take us. Life seemed empty, beyond our comprehension. Mostly both of us just felt numb I think. We felt nothing on the inside. It sounds like we were cold but I honestly thought we would be fine, so long as we could stay together. We knew nothing of the world. We only had each other and our determination.

It is summer now, here today, the day we are to leave this house. I think I should feel more something but its like I am made of ice. I feel nothing. Mum is gone. The freezer unplugged and useless in the kitchen. We are to go into the sunshine. We have never before stood outside in the sunshine. Mum had always warned us against it. I sat down to write this. Outside. On the steps. In the sun. But it feels so warm as if it could-

Part 2

When I arrived, there it was on the porch. None of us had ever believed Elsie. But there beside two little brown suitcases was the evidence. Irrefutable. Two pools of vanilla sludge, melding together at the edge. She always said her children were made of ice cream and when they went out into the sun, they would melt. We looked and looked but there was no evidence that they ever existed in any other way. They had gone out into the sun of their own accord. They had simply melted away.

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I was never quite the same

I have come to tell a story
I have come to say your name
I want to tell the truth of it
I was never quite the same

They said that no one saw it
That you weren’t really hurt
But I saw your body falling
And I know you hit the dirt

I heard the endless sirens
As I was called inside
The soothing words of adults
People never really die

I saw you standing on the roof
Dark against the blue
I saw you jump off of it
I saw you falling too

I never saw you land
The fence was in the way
But I heard the men all calling
I remember plain as day

My mother said I never
I surely never did
But I know I watched you falling
When I was just a kid

I wanted just to sit here
Quiet by your grave
To say that I was sorry
To the man I couldn’t save

Its true I didn’t see it
Your body hit the ground
But I saw your body falling
And I never made a sound

I didn’t run inside
I didn’t raise the alarm
In those precious early moments
I stood there quite calm

Maybe no one would have believed me
No matter what I said
But in those precious early moments
Maybe you weren’t dead

I may have been a child
And absolved of all the blame
But I wanted you to hear it
I was never quite the same.

And her-

And her-

She is a child of the gaps.
Of the spaces between the things we say.

Her noise is voiceless.
Because its only purpose is to shield us

From the realisation, that we are a shell.

Of what we used to be,
Of what we wanted to be.

The inside is hollowed out.
Trauma, life has eaten us up.

We have no words to say to each other.
We savage our partnership with silence,

And salve it with cool contempt.
All so we can survive it.

And her-

She is a child of the gaps
Filling our void with her noise.

Noise, any noise, just noise.
Because the noise binds us together

Fills the holes where the world leaks through.

And the silences tear us apart,
Rends us in two.

She is the life raft of words.
Dragging us from the isles of despair.

And we cling to it, to her,
As if those words belong to us,

As if her birth somehow gave us the right.
One day her voice will be her own.

And we-

We will face the gaps alone.