Anna parked outside her home. The Sun left a red trail behind as it slumped down the sky and into cover behind the trees which cocooned the cottage. She adjusted the rear view mirror, taking a wipe to remove any make-up that remained, pulling at the bags under her eyes. She ran her fingers through her hair a couple of times and revealed a necklace from underneath her jumper before nodding in the mirror.
“Can’t believe I’m wearing this thing.” She said.
The wind battered the car door as she battled to leave. The trees around the house brawled with one another unable to hold onto their faded façade of green and brown, soon there would be nothing left to hide their shame.
She stood at the head of the path which the surrounding grass smothered as it hissed at her approach.
The porch welcomed her with a reluctant creek. She paused at the doorbell before pulling a key from her pocket, the keyring missing its photo, and unlocked the door.
Barging past three suitcases she ignored the stairs as she entered the house, instead heading into the living room. The windows howled as she entered, clouds were confronting the sunset. Framed memories of smiles and hugs judged her every step.
She approached the mantelpiece and examined a vase which held captive some drooping flowers, drained of colour. She rubbed the stock between two fingers which prompted petals to drip into the embers of the fireplace below.
Anna looked at the mirror which hung from the wall. Her grip tightened around the vase as she caught sight of a picture of Mark and David which hung on the opposite side and she launched it across the room crashing into the wall. The picture remained, defiant, as pieces of glass clung to the wall. She stared at the picture as the trickles down her cheeks grew into streams.
“This isn’t my fault, it isn’t!” She said.
“Mum?” Asked a face half hidden by the doorway.
“Oh David, I’m so happy to see you!” She said.
David recoiled as Anna approached but she snatched him up, clutching him close at her shoulder.
“I’m sorry Mum.“ He said, trying to separate from her.
“It’s okay, David.” She said, pulling him in for a hug.
“Are you going to leave?”
“Leave?” She asked, yet to release him.
“Dad packed your clothes up.”
“Your Dad’s just a bit confused, David. It’ll be fine. Mum’s here now.”
As she separated from David, Anna looked past him into the mirror hanging on the wall. A sliver of smoke rose from the fire below, the last of the petals had been consumed.
“Put him down.”
“Put him down, Anna.”
“Right, yes.” Anna replied, freeing David.
He scuttled across to Mark’s side, facing Anna and revealing a dark circle which consumed his eye before hiding behind Mark’s leg.
“David, why don’t you head up to your room while Mum and Dad talk?” He said, ruffling David’s hair.
David fled the room and Mark entered, leaving the door open.
“Mark, I’m sorry.” She said.
“David doesn’t know that. He still thinks he did something to deserve it.”
“I’ll make it up to you both, I promise.”
“This isn’t like missing a school play! You can’t click your fingers and make things fall back into place!”
Pieces of glass slipped from the wall and onto the floor.
“God damn it Anna! You can’t even control yourself around a fucking vase! How are you supposed to be a parent?!”
“I’m not a good parent but I want to be.” She said, moving closer to Mark who stood arms folded.
“And you thought by turning up here and what, smashing a vase and trying to smash a picture would show that? You’re crazy.”
“Give me a chance, one more chance. Help me get past this, we can get through it.”
Anna placed her hand on his wrist.
“I don’t believe you.” He said, swiping her hand away.
“I can be better, I don’t want to lose David.”
“You lost him the moment you lay a hand on him like that.”
“I’m sorry. I know it’s my fault, what else do you want me to say? To do?”
Mark slammed the living room door and it rebounded open.
“There’s nothing you can do. It’s not safe to have you around him.”
“Mum? Dad? What’s going on?!” David asked.
“Nothing, Anna’s leaving now.” Mark said.
He grabbed hold of her wrist now and dragged her out of the living room.
“Let me go you piece of shit!”
Mark opened the door. By now it was raining heavily. He threw two of the suitcases outside before opening another and throwing the contents to the whipping winds outside which littered the garden with garments. Anna crashed into him as she raced outside, trying to collect each piece of clothing.
Lightning split the warring clouds for a moment’s truce as the sky roared. David sat at the bottom of the stairs, unmoved, wrapping his arms around his knees as he watched.