The old woman plodded up the stairs slowly mumbling under her breath, words fumbling in drunken haze bleeding out of her mouth each step slow and measured stabbing into the carpeted wooden floors that groaned in pain from her assault Outside the darkness crept along behind the day as it said its last goodbye on the horizon its pale corpse withering behind a valleys of bricks, inside the darkness breathed following after the old woman like a pungent scent. She listened as the frail shadow ascended the words to low to dissect frozen in her darkened room lit by the purring laptop over heating on her bed, her mother shuffled along the thick fur like carpet into her own room. The daughter breathed a sigh mingled with annoyance as she remembered the bottle of wine her mother concealed behind the shopping it would be in the bin along with the half devoured whiskey which she was surprised to find resting in the cupboard with the pots and pans and not sleeping with the vegetable skins and ripped letters demanding money.
Her small flat nose scrunched twitching as something pierced it she took a quick inhale, a rush of smells crowded down her nose, she took a deeper loud sniff her vacuum like nose sucking up all the mingling aromas. Lavender smothered in sweat floral bouquet simmering in the socket the scent of unscented washing powder drifting from the bathroom she hated that room spray it was like old fashioned soap and cold air with a slight hint of bleach, her mothers spiced perfume and rich dark hot coffee, freshly turned earth moist and damp leaves trees flowers and grass all shivering dripping their smell into the air.
In between her drifting haze words and sounds pierced her consciousness like a radio being tuned, her mothers voice slurred in and out as she talked on the phone.
“Sex booze drugs I expect you know”
“those are normal problems not fairy tale nonsense”
Sarah sat up the pain was waning the words were getting sharper louder she closed her eyes it felt like she was floating through the door down the stairs into the living room hovering beside her mother hearing her heavy resigned breaths pen scratching back and forth heart pounding in slow rhythmic beats.
Sarah lay still as the pain stabbed her and sweat bubbled over her flesh tiredly she closed her eyes drowning in the darkness waiting for the pain to subside but the crashing wave just lingered the sounds of rushing traffic died down to a whisper her mothers groaning footsteps drifted far away into the distance. She felt it the gnawing feeling crawling, the murmuring growing louder and hungrier haunting yellow eyes watching sharp teeth snapping ripping into blood dripping flesh, the nightmare jerked her back into the small room shivering her weary breath falling in gasps growing stronger with fear.
The weary old mother sat down sighing with relief on the sofa gnawing loudly on a red apple she smiled then spoke in a somber tone to her daughter.
“Goodness knows how am going to pay off 1000 with 5 pounds a week” snorting with laughter at some cruel joke twisting her lips with worry and sighing with each bite she took.
The girl desperately wanted to reply “perhaps its best to pay what you can then nothing at all” but she didn’t she just silently huffed with frustration burying her head in sea of words floating in the book harder and harder she gazed hoping her mother would not speak.
With a faint zest of hope the old woman added “I want to pay them off as quickly as possible so I can borrow so more”. The girl breathed quietly the smile still stuck on her face smothering the words that danced eagerly on her tongue “Don’t you see this is why your drowning”, but silent she remained unable to help she gave what she could and still it was not enough.
“I think I’ll go for a walk” the old woman declared as she took her last bite and discarded the core into the waste basket “I don’t think you sister will come today” as she looked at the ticking clock the day growing old with each step.
“Please don’t” her daughter wanted to say “and spend what you have on what you don’t need” but instead she looked up and smiled warmly and said “okay it looks nice today” scolding her timid self that cowered in the dark.
The old woman bundled up and marched off alone as the girl sat curled up alone, they didn’t speak of their darkness instead wrapped up warmly as the coldness bit.
Claire felt unprepared as she entered the teenagers room on her nursing duties armed with a strip of paracetamols she couldn’t remember if she had given her any, she found an anxious ghost cowering in the blankets desperately seeking solace she seemed so small not a gangling weed of 16, worrying about werewolves of all things why the question pounded her head. Half nervous the other half afraid she fidgeted pacing the shrinking room stopping when she found nestled beneath papers a dish Claire gathered it worried lines rippled her forehead she gave her daughter a forced smile and left.
“Werewolves don’t exist” her mother said bluntly punching down the creeping fear so hard that it bled on the floor Sarah slithered further down the blanket as her mother scanned her bedroom for a loitering cup or dish, “the only wolves we have are in zoos…bad people and fast cars are more dangerous then wolves trapped in zoos” her words were robotic but soothing facts were soothing the existed not like the werewolves lurking in Sarah s imaginations. Sarah wanted to swallow back the words she felt foolish but more childish telling her mother about the nightmares what next boys.