My younger brother had just erupted out of the bathroom and in typical sibling rivalry me and my older brother battled to be next in the shower as we did every night, the looser always gets the cold shower. Anticipating the bathroom door to open, the cue, we raced, flinging insults at each other we bolted for the hallway. I soared past taking the advantage ploughing my shoulder into his in triumph and took off.
His size and speed superior to mine saw his hand reach out and grab the back of my shirt flinging me into the wall, not to be beaten as we rounded the corner I tripped him and we both saw the finish line crossing the threshold to the bathroom and made a final leap into the bathroom with all our youthful energy.
My bare feet met a thin film of soapy water on the tiny white square tiles. My little brother had happily created a soapy wonderland playing in the bath and my feet slid effortlessly into the room. I reached out for purchase on the basin. My older brother beside me also loosing his footing plunged toward the wire criss-crossed shower screen.
The screen cracked under his weight but defiantly held and I snapped my head up from searching for the basin hold to look at him. My legs made contact with the bath and I took flight. The delicate porcelain shell soap holder on the other side of the bath shattered against my forehead. Pinned to the remnants, hovering above the soapy water my arms wavering like a bug under a collector’s gaze.
It was the only time I have ever heard my brother scream, a full belly scream from deep down in the gut and I felt a heavy feeling roll over me in a wave. I don’t remember the pain, just a feeling of pressure on my forehead. I don’t remember much at all after that except for my mum.
Mum with her blue jeans and white shirt lifting me into her arms and a long spray erupting from my forehead painting the walls, colouring the bathwater. Mum cradling me. Warm arms wrapping around me turning slippery. The old Kingswood door opening with a familiar creak, cutting the silence and dad folding my legs into the car as mum hugged me tightly.
Secure against her chest. Her heart thumping. Steady and loud. The car engine under strain from my fathers lead foot and still silence. Arms holding me so tight I couldn’t tell the corrugation on the gravel road from the shaking of her hold. Tiny rocks flung up under the undercarriage in fury. The occasional scream of protest from a spring in the seat against the pothole in the track and a gentle hand brushing the sticky moisture from my cheek. I felt loved, I felt love pour over me willing me to breathe as sticky slick tears covered my face. I slept.
Short story by Kellie Watson