My face aches. It has been stretched like this, most unnaturally, since the moment I pulled into the crunchy driveway. Her watery eyes stare past me at the gaudy idyllic landscape painting hanging lopsided on the wall- garish thick strokes, saturated neon hues.
She knows nothing of my crocodile smile, my beeping phone- and oh dear, I really must check it soon. If only she could see herself- a spotted, paper thin husk, a hollow remnant of what once was. I will be the one to initiate the pleasantries. Inhale.
The words, so lacklustre in their formation, miss their mark entirely, swooping down and landing in a heap, scattering on the ornamental carpet. Thankfully, the pile will never be big enough as to warrant attention, so I make no attempt to brush them off- the fallen letters, that is. There are people for that, regardless.
“Well, you are looking… well. The summer is agreeing with you, clearly.”
Lies, all lies through a clenched jaw. In truth she has never looked closer to fragility, so snappable, her body having trumped her mind. Blueish tinged gauze stretched over poorly concealed bone, wrinkles set in stubborn formation.
And still she gazes, mouth agape, drifting in and out of concentration but always settling her gaze on the awful painting, her chosen muse for today. I can’t think why- if a hilly paddock is novel to her, she has clearly forgotten how many she used to own.
Beep beep beep, and it’s the phone and-
“I’m sorry Mother but I really must…”
Leave, thank goodness, if only for a moment- there’s at least four more questions for her to not register before I can escape today.
“The obligation” by Josephine Devereux (Year 13 Logan Park High School). Prose poem which offers an intense but well-controlled glimpse of the true nature of a relationship.