Do Not Enter

We will start with the Welcome Mat. There it lays at the doorway, multi coloured sisal bearing the legend “Mi Casa, Su Casa” in black. It is clean, never hither to touched by boot or shoe, the function of cleaning soiled footwear denied it, in preference to its role as a bearer of platitudes.

In a glance I am profoundly aware that I am not welcome.

Now we look up at the door. Navy blue UPVC with chrome (coloured) door furniture. It has a small crescent shaped window light at the top. All of this gleams. I can clearly see the distorted reflection of my face in the door knocker.

Look up yet higher and there is the canopy, affixed with 2 wrought iron struts to the wall. From these struts hang 2 baskets of flowers, Marigolds neat and trim and no other sort, with their smallish spherical orange tufts equidistantly placed.

It is all perfectly symmetrical. I cannot find a flaw or a mark, not a hint of wear and tear.

Here it comes, the wave of crushing fear, the surge of crisis that this house never fails to spark. My hands shake and are sweating. My heart is beating out of my chest, my breathing becoming wild and I have an urge to run. It is always this way when I visit her. My mother. Her.

She is in there.

When I was 5 I had a place in the garden, a soft bushy shrub close to the hedge that made a small secluded hideaway. In that little green spot I felt safe. Its where I would deposit myself after an “episode”. One day whilst hiding in this corner I saw an ant and I laid on in my tummy, the better to watch it. More ants joined and I observed them at close quarters, as they defeated the obstacle course I made for them. I did this for a long time and lost myself for a while. Then she called for me, space shattered and I went inside to her.

There were grass stains on my t-shirt, green smeared across the Persil white cotton. She put her finger on the stain and poked me repeatedly, whispering “dirty, dirty, dirty”. I was sent to my room and not fed that evening. When I looked out of my window the next morning the shrub had been dug up. Over the patch of bare earth was a miniature concrete replica of Nelsons Column, with his hat as a bird bath.

One memory. There are many more and at this doorway they crowd me, rush at me like hooligans. One day I won’t go in, one day I won’t even come. She is inside slightly withered now and disappearing. Somewhere there is an empty coffin waiting for her and I do get some courage from that.

See me now as I screw my fist, cover it with my cuff and knock the door, making sure not to leave any smears.