15.12.12

The news from America (fiction)


The news says eighteen children were shot dead in America and I run to tell my mother. She’s making curry, the sting of chilli in the air and I rub my eyes and try not to sneeze.

Her laptop is on the table, open, a picture of curry and rice taking up its screen. The picture has blurred edges because, as Mummy once explained, that’s the fashion these days.

“That’s terrible!” she says, not looking down to me. She shakes her head, “Crazy Americans.”

“But Mummy,” I pick up a piece of dried chilli, shake it and seeds fall out. “You have to come and see the news.”

“Maybe later,” she adjusts her apron and stirs carefully, frowning, perhaps her recipe is not going well, she looks back at her laptop.

“But, what if someone comes and shoots at our school.”

“Don’t worry sweetie, they won’t.” She shakes something I can’t identify into the pot.

“I would run, I would run, really fast and I’d hide. He’d never catch me. I came first in sports at school.” I’m sure of it. No one could catch me, not even the boys.

“Hmm,” she replies, “You shouldn’t watch the news, you’re too little.”

“I’m not. Daddy says if I watch the news I’ll grow up to be smart,” I break another chilli into small pieces but mummy carries on cooking instead of telling me off for playing with food.

Annoyed, I get up and shuffle back to the sitting room.

People are crying and holding each other, the camera hovering around them, a woman tries to speak. A woman with long blonde hair comes onto the screen and tells us again how terrible it all is.

I run back to the kitchen and tug at mummy’s apron.

“I’d run and hide and wait for you to come and get me. I’m really good at hide and seek.”

Mother doesn’t answer. She stirs her pot faster, her careful rhythm lost - red tomato sauce splashing onto her apron and onto the floor.

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