Text Box: First Quarter 2019 — First Place

Ring Pull

by

Hannah Persaud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my head hits the pillow I see it. In the corner, where the skirting board’s chipped. A small metal loop like the ones on a tin can.

Ryan won’t wake until morning. The baby monitor’s on my bedside table.

Bare feet against floorboards. Quiet. Ryan could sleep through an earthquake but Eddie’s a hard wired explosive.

‘God I’m knackered,’ Ryan said. He got home during bathtime. My bubble soaked blouse rode up above my waistband; a soft roll of flesh exposed. Eddie chewed on a plastic duck. Holding his tie to the side Ryan kissed Eddie’s cheek. Eddie beamed his first smile of the day.

I crouch down and push one finger through the loop. Beside it there’s a timer, fixed at 30 seconds.

He kissed my forehead. ‘Sorry I’m late. I needed to unwind. Do you want wine?’ he asked. I nodded. Heard him go downstairs, the fridge door, then the TV turning on. Eddie screwed his face up.

A thin silver line runs out from the loop, around the perimeter of the room. I pull the loop and feel resistance. The timer flickers. A wail pierces the monitor. Ryan pushes his pillow over his head.

When I got downstairs the wine was all gone. ‘Did you cook?’ Ryan said. My nipples leaked milk.

I grip the sides of the loop and pull, maintaining tension. The floor peels away from the wall in the corner. There’s a glow of light from beneath. The timer starts timing. 29 seconds. 28.

I burst into tears. ‘I’m so worried about you,’ Ryan said.

Below me is a familiar room. There’s a suctioning sound as I pull the floor back further. Chipped skirting board. A bed. The old me, sleeping, 10lbs lighter.

My ear drums vibrate with Eddie’s screeching.

Hanging my head over the edge of the floor where it curls upwards, I am met with silence. No baby monitor beside my star shaped body. No Ryan either. 12 seconds. 11.

Ryan turns in bed.    

There’s a ladder, hanging. I have just seconds to make the decision of a lifetime. All it took then, all I have now.

‘Darling?’ Ryan shouts through Eddie’s screams.

6. 5. 4. I swing a leg into the space below me, searching for the top rung with my toe.

Ryan sits up.

3…I climb down the ladder

2…pulling the floor down above me.

1.

Second Place: Hand-Delivered

Third Place: Momma