Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. Her work has appeared in many publications including Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times. She was nominated for the Hennessy Literary Award for emerging poetry and selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2019. Her poetry chapbook, “The Woman With An Owl Tattoo” was published in May 2019 by Fly On The Wall Poetry Press. Her debut short story collection, “Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife” was published by Blue Nib in September 2019. To find out more about Anne and to order her books go to her website: annewalshdonnelly.com
Tom’s raggedy voice creeps from the kitchen into the hall and squeezes through the cupboard’s keyhole. I wish I could help him with the Christmas dinner and be the wife he needs.
I’m scrunched like a rower in a sculling boat. No water to glide through or dip fingers into. Darkness dims the fluorescent bulb in my head and slows my darting eyes. I inhale stale Calvin Klein from Tom’s leather jacket. Scratch my head to get rid of dust mites that have landed on my scalp. I rock back and forth between the pitch-pine walls.
I’ve been like a rabbit stuffed with Duracell batteries all morning.
Cut my thumb with the knife as I peeled the potatoes.
Laughed like a crow cawing.
Kitchen too bright, eyes couldn’t stop blinking.
This is not me, you understand. The bottom-of-the-coal-pit episodes are not me either.
Days, I drag my feet through wet slack, going from bed to couch and back again.
Days, my tears shape trenches down the sides of my nose.
Days, I want to dive into white-water rapids.
I don’t want this rollercoaster life. But I don’t want to take my medications and live like a slug in zombie land.
I shiver. There’s no heat in this negligee. Tom’s Christmas present. It smells of our dawn exertions. He knows I would have no interest in sex if I started taking the meds again.
He taps on the door.
His voice stops me rocking.
“I can’t let your parents see me like this,” I say.
His new jumper rubs against the hall wall. I open the cupboard door a bit, peer out. He’s slouched on the floor. Forehead resting on his knees. He doesn’t deserve this. He looks up, catches my exposed eye.
“I’ll text them and cancel. They can go to my sister instead.”
He stands, walks to the cupboard and rests a hand on his side of the door. I stick mine out. He squeezes my fingers, uses his other hand to text his parents. Whispers the words of my favourite song.
Come on skinny love just last the year.
He helps me out of the cupboard, gathers my withering body into his arms and lays me on the sitting room couch. Massages my cramped muscles. Gives me a glass of water and my cocktail of pills.
“Please take them,” he says, “for me, if not for you.”
I take the glass and meds from him. The smoke sensor sounds. Burnt turkey reaches our noses. Tom races to the kitchen. I open three bottles of pills and swallow their contents.