The red wheelbarrow

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  • Published 20091201
  • ISBN: 9781921520860
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

I HEARD A growl, deep and low, and then a yelp. I had been lying awake – I always tried to stay awake when Dad was drunk and angry – and when I heard the noise I got out of bed, crossed the hallway and pushed open Mum and Dad’s bedroom door. The light was on, and the room looked as if it was shining. Mum and Dad were sitting up in bed, the dark veneer of the bed head framing them from above the waist and the white sheet messed up around their legs. Dad’s mouth was smeared with blood. It was on his teeth. He was panting. Mum was looking into her lap, where she was squeezing her left fist with her right hand. I could see her left thumb sticking out, the flesh hanging off and blood streaming down.

She wouldn’t let me drive her to the hospital this time. It wasn’t bad enough, she said. I got her out of bed, led her into the bathroom and started cleaning the wound with wet clumps of toilet paper. She sat on the tiled edge of the apricot-coloured bathtub in her short nightie, swaying and crying a little. I noticed her breasts under the threadbare cotton of the white nightie, and I saw that her thighs, lean and hairless, were smeared with blood. She was closer to my age than to Dad’s. She wiped her nose with her free hand. She had once told me that she had cried on her wedding day at the registry office in Tallinn. Even though Dad was from the country, Mum said, she had been the naive one.

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