Picture Credits: Joanne Clifford

The ball of his feet. Synthetic material. One toe poking out of the sheet, the other foot pressing lightly against my calf. Things feels strange all the time now. I try not to stir him. The lawyer will call in an hour but we’ll both ignore our phones. We’re having an ‘us’ day. Our last day, together. I wonder if sleeping is a waste of time. He snores softly beside me and I suppose not.

Sleep doesn’t come easy for me. Every time I close my eyes I see her, twisted at the bottom of the stairs, blue dress uplifted, the hem covering her mouth, her neck wrong, her eyes, open. The ball had rolled away from her like it couldn’t care less, like it was a passer-by.

She loved to play with it, hated its confiscation when she was acting up. She would bawl for it, lashing out angrily, small fists against our big legs, managing to pry the ball from my tired fingers, running away with reckless anguish, eyes a wet, blurry mess, the steps an invisible nuisance in the midst of a five-year-old’s tantrum.

The bounce of her body was a shameful act that we would pay penance for until our dying breaths. Soon twelve strangers would decide if we paid at home or in a dark, locked cell. But tomorrow was a lifetime away. Today was for reflection, for memorising the feel of him next to me, for trying to forget the thud of that bounce.