I know there is something wrong, a week has past. And yet.
The phone rings and we are not allowed to answer.
Tato has been peeing everywhere. We are not allowed to walk him.
We stay in. For Mamá.
Mamá is sitting. Her back straight. Her hands covering three or four pansies on the tablecloth. She has been looking at us all dinner. At us or at the still frozen bread in the middle of the table. At us or at the half a pansy that shows from under the plastic salt shaker.
Papá’s puchero tastes of locked doors. I push it around with a fork that does not match his, nor Nacho’s. Mamá hates mismatches. But I do not dare complain. I am happy that from where he is sitting, Nacho would not be able to see the straps.
Nacho is saying something but his wafer-thin words break apart and fall on his plate. I feel sorry for him. He’s six, and feeding on a jumble of carrots and meat and chewed up words. His eyes are teary but do not meet Mamá’s. Her eyes are sharp, black stones crammed under her eye lids. A week-old eyes.
Papá pours himself some wine, a second glass. Mamá’s eyes are fixed past the second glass of wine, past Nacho. I want her to count Papá’s glasses of wine. I want her to claim Nachos chewed up words. But she does nothing.
Now Nacho and I sit on my bed, with a book. He looks at pictures of dragons.
-The thing with mum, is it true? He says, eyes still on dragons.
-Well, yes, it is.
Red eyed, green, scaly skin, and enormous wings. Ferocious, yet unstrapped.
Papá is reading the Sunday’s paper. Again and again and again.
Mamá and a crocheted blanket are limp on the couch.
Papá sits by her side and now starts talking to her. A lullaby-talk.
Tato jumps on Mamá and Papá goes in a rage.
-Bloody dog. Get the hell out of here.
And getting closer to Mamá, his voice softens:
And holding her hands, he says
-your hands are cold. They are so very cold.
Mamá does not answer. Mamá has not answered at all for the past week, when her eyes turned to stone and Papá started to strap her to the dinning chair and the phone rang and Tato peed all over the house, un-walked.
Dad is still talking his fading lullaby-talk. A tired monologue. A string of stale words that fall heavy and hollow, on a pointless crocheted blanket.
Ana Duffy is an emerging writer of fiction, born in Argentina and living in Australia. Only recently, as a student at the Queensland University of Technology Masters in Creative Writing Program, she started to write in English. She was shortlisted for the Alan Marshall short story Award and Queensland Writers Centre flash fiction Prize.