WHITE CLOUDS

Rosemary paused as her little heart beat rattled in her chest, one of her parents had awoken. Terrified her night feeds would be discovered she removing her tiny fingers from the packet. Clutching the two biscuits she had managed to snipe seconds before the creak of the kitchen door had stilled her she waited. There was nowhere to run in the tiny larder, stuck between a scolding and the door, Rosemary stayed close to the wall her tiny feet covered in flour. If she was caught in here there would be hell to pay, her father always insisted on ladylike behaviour and eating after dark was not one of them.

Carefully, Rosemary stepped closer to the door, listening to her parents through the crack while sucking the edge of the malt biscuit.

Unaware of listening ears Sarah sucked in her breath and turned on the kettle. Standing beside the sink she shook her head in annoyance. The news last night had predicted a roit and in the pit of her stomach Sarah felt physically sick. A man had died and again no one was taking responsibility. Everytime Peter, her husband left to parade the streets like a proud peacock she feared days like these. The people were angry and they had every right to be.

Peter wanted no talk of retribution or restitution, instead he preferred to ignore injustice. Together they listened to the live radio announcements following the terror happening on the streets. Reports continued to filter through the static as the people fought back.

While Sarahs blood boiled, Peter remained indifferent.

Laying awake in the dark Sarah willed herself to slept but sleep refused to come. There were houses burning, shops being looted and more innocent people injured. The call had come, no warnings just a shrill ring breaking through the middle of the night. Fumbling for the phone Peter answered with that new accent he had mastered; she knew it was no one she knew.

“Yes sir I will be right there.” Peter responded.

Watching Peter dress for work so calm and unaffected, the sight of him also begun to nauseate her. Why could he not see they were on the wrong side of the war.

Now standing in the kitchen bear foot she couldn’t hold the burning words at the edge of her tongue.

“This is wrong Peter and you know it. That man died on the street like a dog. How could you defend them.”

“I took an oath to serve and protect, Sarah.”

“What about your oath to me?”

Peter sighed, crossing the threshold he took a seat at the table. Avoiding the burning gaze boring into his soul Peter pushed his left foot into his work boot. Ever since he had joined the force he had a sense of pride the past had tried to bury.

“Did you hear me!” Sarah snapped impatiently. “These are our people.”

“Dont start that nonsense again, we made a choice.” Peter reminded her sternly.

“Peter we made choices out of nesscity, times have changed.”

Peter huffed, ” You really wanna go back to the slum.”

Sarah lowered her gaze, she hated when he spoke like that.

“I want to see my mother, she is getting old now.”

“I heard you Sarah but I don’t think you thought this through.” Peter said as his tied his laces neatly. “Your mother would rather you stay here I believe that with all my heart.” he added.

“Of course I have thought this through. This life is a dream Peter. A fantasy that can’t turn into a nightmare at any moment!.”

“Keep your voice down.” Peter snapped. “I will not have Rosemary upset tonight.”

Rubbing her swollen stomach unconsciously she hummed a few lullaby notes to sooth the tiny fumble of hands and feet. Sarah folded her arms across her growing belly and frown.

“I want to go home now, Peter. It’s time!” Sarah hissed.

Peter tilted his head to one side and stared at his wife intently. “I dont understand the sudden urge to return to a place that had never been good to us. Tell me what this is about?”

Sarah sighed heavily and moved away from the kitchen table, fumbling with the wet forks on the drainer.

“I just think we can go back home now that’s all.”

Peter stood and moved in her direcrion. Placing his hands around her waist he pulled her closer. Reluctantly Sarah relaxed in his arms and inhaled the scent of talcum powder and vaseline.

“Listen baby, we owe it to our children to give them the best life and this is it,” Peter sighed. ” Our children will have the best and attend the best schools. They will be educated and free to travel the entire world without restrictions. This is the best place for them.” He continued.

“Is it!” Sarah replied sadly. ” A life without family and a mother to scared to leave the house incase she puts a foot wrong.” Sobbing Sarah wiped her angry tears and said honestly, “I’m scared Peter, what if I say something, what if I say something.”

“You must not think that in that manner.”

Sarah shrugged, it had been six whole years since she had seen her mother and father or anyone who resembled family. Peter had become her everything and the house had become a beautiful birdcage. Trapped inside the confides of its walls with only herslf to talk too Sarah had slowly doubted her sanity. Now, she was with child again and she needed her mother more than ever. Stepping out of his warm embrace she took a seat.

“How do you do it?” She asked

“Do what?”

“Pretend..”

Kissing his teeth loudly Peter walked past his wife and exited the kitchen. Placing her palms upon the table Sarah examined every inch of her hands for traces of her truth but it never appeared. The red ruby blood that ran through her veins had been striped of her menalin and her pale skin a vision of whiteness that oppressed her blackness. The past didn’t matter as much as their future did. Everyday she thought of the life she was carrying and what if.

What if they wasn’t lucky this time. Rosemary had olive skin and pale green eyes. During the summer she had to be covered from head to foot or lathered in sun cream. Nothing was simple in the world they had created for themselves. No matter what Peter said, Sarah intended to go home.

Standing at the kicthen door Peter cursed her weakness. Life had become comfortable, a place of safety and warmth that they could never achieve on the other side. Here, in his world he was a man, equal to his counterparts. There he would be another face amid the unemployment line. Another broken man living in the belly of the beast and feeding of the scraps of another man’s table. There was no way on God’s green earth he would ever return home.

Rosemary placed the last of the biscuit in her mouth and suckled lightly as her eyes closed slowly.

Pushing back her chair Sarah took a deep breath.

“Peter, I know your behind the door I can see your shadow. I brought a ticket for all of us to back home, I’m trying of pretending to be something I’m not. I’m a black…..”

Peter stormed into the kitchen so fast Sarah stepped back and stumbled into the kitchen counter. Red with rage Peter flew into his wife and clutched her neck tightly.

Startled, Rosemary peered through the crack and gasped. Turning to the left Peter stared into his daughters eyes and released Sarah’s neck. Pushing open the door Rosemary padded across the kitchen floor and stared down at her mothers lifeless body.

“Mother.”

Sarahs eyes remained open, unblinking.

Looking at the damage he done Peter shook Sarahs shoulders but her eyes stayed the same, staring back accusingly. It was too late.

As the morning sun rose and the birds began to chirp outside, Rosemary stared out of the kitchen window. Following the plumes of grey smoke rising into the air she watched ad they tainted the clear white clouds in the sky. Looking down at her tanned skin her mothers words over and over in her head.

#IAMBLACK

#HERSTORY

© W O R D B E R R Y

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Do not reproduce in any shape or form…to be released shortly in print.
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