Ernest Alanki

Posted on September 5, 2011

1


Hysteria

A din peels Tracey’s eyes open. It shakes her bedroom and pierces her skin. It freezes her core.

Silence.

She wonders if she has imagined the commotion, until another violent breaking of glass settles her doubts, and starts the panic all over again.

“Jonathan!” She doesn’t recognize her own voice. It is parched with fear.

No answer.

Tracey skids out of bed, her cheeks flaming.

Jonathan isn’t here. How can I forget? He isn’t mine anymore.

Fear mingles with bitterness.

What an awful moment to be reminded of the divorce?

The whole drama is still fresh in her mind, as the evening Jonathan came home and announced the end of their eleven-year marriage.

She’d thrown the china at him, shattered the tea mugs on the floor and smashed a dent into the bedroom door with a chair. Jonathan moved in with her best friend Melissa.

It was never part of the plan to be divorced.

She blamed herself for her foolishness — her unflinching loyalty betrayed by the two people she’d trusted the most. In the end Tracey convinced herself it wasn’t anything extraordinary. Things like these happened every day.

****

Tracey sits at the edge of the bed and listens to the night around her.

The quietness begins to jar. Another explosion fragments this illusion, and leaves a trumpet sounding in her ears, like a dying elephant. She clasps the sides of her head with her palms.

Then David, her five-year-old son screams. It is as though he’s being attacked by the beast agitating the night.

Tracey races through the dark room and stumbles over the pair of shoes she’d kicked off, when she returned from work.

She finds and thrusts a stiletto heel forward. She waddles through the black peat, afraid to click the light switch on, into the circular hall that connects her bedroom, her son’s, the sitting room and their kitchen.

David’s distressed calls of mommy, guide her toward his room. She tries to be calm. Gliding on trembling legs, her heart is a mess in her chest. There’s nothing she can do about it.

The door to David’s room is standing open. A sharp stomach twitch sickens Tracey. She remembers shutting the door after tucking David into bed. But she isn’t too sure.

Somewhere close by, a metal object rattles the floor, and resonates like a lost coin. Her nerves send her flying into David’s room, and bash her into the bunk bed on the other side.

She loses her weapon and swears under her breath. As she fights to regain her balance, she becomes aware of arms wrapped around her waist.

They are soft hands. They are kind. It is David. She can tell from his touch. She can smell her baby. She knows because she always cuddles him with her nose buried in the top of his head. Nothing else makes her calmer, not even Jonathan’s strong and protective arms.

Tracey scoops up her son and fumbles out of the room. He clings to her, his chin pressed into the pit of her left shoulder.

In the kitchen, she finds the light switch and heads for the knife cabinet. As the light washes over the kitchen, she notices the china cleaned after dinner broken on the floor. The washing machine is in its last throes, spinning down the laundry she’d heaped into it just before bedtime. The dish rack she’d placed on top of the machine, with its content to dry, is lying empty on the floor.

Tracey stares at the laundry machine, frozen. She’s undecided whether to cry or be enraged.

“Stupid … stupid!” she says.

Stepping back, she slides down against the kitchen door and sits on the floor. A deep breath of air rushes into her lungs and she slowly exhales. In her bosom, Tracey kisses David on the cheek, buries her nose in the top of his head and runs her fingers through his soft hair.

She feels blessed to have David. Especially now, she knows even better how much he means to her.

“In you, there are countless Jonathans,” she whispers.

David is peacefully asleep — safe in her warmth.

The throbbing in Tracey’s temples fades, with it, Jonathan’s grip on her.

***

Ernest Alanki writes short stories, poems and novel length fiction. His works have appeared or will soon feature in The Journal of Microliterature, Dunia Magazine and The American Mensa ltd., writer’s magazine, Calliope. He has had poems published in an anthology. He currently lives in Stockholm where he works at The Swedish Museum of Natural History as a researcher.

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