I can’t eat my soup.

I told mum that I wouldn’t eat it, but she heats it up for me anyway.

‘Just in case’, she says.

Just in case.

I watch her hook her finger under the metal latch and begin to peel the lid off. I watch it hesitate, and bend over in a strange angle; hunched old man. A final tug, it releases its grip. Orange splatter over the counter. I look at the splatter and think that if my insides looked like my outsides then

I would be just one big splatter, too.

Like the time that deer hit our car and left a huge one all over the front of the bumper. And mum

moaned disgustedly that she would have to get it cleaned, because she didn’t want to touch it herself. Which I remember thinking was strange, because there is so much of it inside of her, and she doesn’t seem to mind about that. But she said ‘blood is supposed to be on the inside, not the outside, honey’.

I now realise what she meant.

She wipes the soup splatter off the counter with a sponge. The outside of the sponge is green and the inside is red and it looks like Christmas. The room smells like tomatoes and cold.

She pours the tin’s contents into a bowl, it splatters on her face as the lumps splash into the sauce:

angry orange freckles.

I can’t eat my soup.

I told mum that I couldn’t eat it, but she tries to feed it to me anyway.

‘Grief is a strange thing’, she says.

It is.

‘But you mustn’t stop eating, or you will feel worse.’

Worse.

I try to tell her that the thought of putting anything inside of my body makes me sick.

I try to tell her

I try to describe

a hole punch has riddled my stomach with holes and that I am certain

soup would just leak through the gaps. That my body is a warzone

and I am on the defence, alone on the front line. There is an arsonist inside of me who lit a fire, a fire no one has worked out how to put out yet. How somebody filled my throat with coins and the more I swallow the bigger they become.

I tell her I’m not hungry

She looks at me through eyes that cannot see.

And goes to the kitchen to retrieve a spoon

‘Just in case’.

I can’t eat my soup.

I wonder if this is how my mum felt when he left, and she let her armpit hair grow long like grass and her eyelashes clumped together like tiny bunches of flowers,

when the top of her head iced over with a frost that ate up the sunshine yellow,

when her face was the colour of candy floss.

When her eyes looked as if they had been sucked out of their sockets.

When she was the daughter and I was her mum, and I held her and let her

Bleed all over me

And soup filled her eyes and her ears and her mouth and flooded the sheets and clumped her hair and ran down her cheeks, her paper skin

Dripped like wax down her crumpled chin.

Trying to catch each drop for later

When she put herself back together

And we cleaned the car to hide the evidence

And we cleaned the sheets to hide the innocence

When I told her to shower and dress and I untwisted her hair from the knot on her head and bought her some soup in bed.

I wonder if she ever thinks about it.

I wonder if she remembers.

Mum fetches me salt to add flavour

Salt stings

Salt heals.

She wipes my face and

feeds me my soup.


Follow Concrete on Twitter to stay up to date