Does it Matter?

by Kerrin Leeb

I remember the smell of an ending and how easy it seemed. I lie here, sand in my mouth, waves crashing in time with my aching head. I feel pinned down by her name. Does it matter if I say it? I hear voices and I remember. I remember the rust which was blood and something cracking, which was bone. But also my heart. Perhaps I’ll never get up.

The voices come closer.

“Over here,” they say. “Pulse?”

I feel tiny grains scraping at my throat as I swallow. They roll me over and I open my eyes to burning white light. I think maybe I am dead. I have killed myself.

Does it matter if I say her name?

My mouth opens but no words come out, my tongue flops uselessly. I feel a warm hand on my forehead.

“Don’t worry,” someone says, “you’ll be fine.”

But I know I will never be fine.

When I wake in a clean, smooth bed, a man in a white coat takes my hand.

“How are you feeling?” he says.

I remember that nobody has ever asked me this before. I say nothing.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he says. “I’m afraid that something terrible happened yesterday, at Charmouth, on the beach. Your mum was found dead, murdered, not far from where we found you.”

His voice is soothing. It reminds me of the thing I have always wished for.

“I’m so sorry,” he says with tears in his eyes. “You’re safe now.”

I am not sorry. I close my eyes, comforted by the throbbing in my head. She is in another place now and I am here. I will never be able to go there.

“Rest now,” the doctor says. “The police would like to talk to you when you are feeling better.”

Words are too dangerous, I think. It matters if I say her name and so I must never say anything again. This is what will keep me safe.

Kerrin Leeb is a teacher by day and writer by night.

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