How soft it was, the darkness of the church. I was sixteen when my mother told me a bloody horror story. I took Communion every Sunday, but it wasn’t enough. The first story involved a mother strangling her child. The second story involved a mother stabbing her daughter. The third story involved a mother setting fire to the house to kill everyone in it: five little girls, two boys, and herself. Each story was told to me on the way home from church. There were never any fathers in her stories, just mothers, but I don’t think the mothers were ever single. I think the fathers were just absent. My father never came to church and he never heard the stories. I cried at night thinking of all of the little dead children, and when I got my period I thought I had done something wrong by my mother and that she had secretly been violent to me, but she was so happy for me and so proud that I had become a woman that I eventually believed that I was menstruating and not dying. She called up my aunts and told them. She called her mother and told her. She waited until it was just my sister and I in the lounge room and then she told her. The fourth story involved a mother poisoning her children’s ice cream. I read late every night until my parents turned off their bedroom lights, and whenever the house creaked I woke up. I read Paul Auster. I read Italo Calvino. I read Dubravka Ugresic. I read Andre Gide. I read Christopher Isherwood. I read Herta Muller. I read Can Xue. Every time a mother and her children were mentioned as being alone together I wanted to throw up. I read Cesar Aira. I read Ornela Vorpsi. I read Dorothea Dieckmann. I never slept, or ate, or drank, or socialised. I read and I was vigilant. I still took Communion. The priest asked me what was wrong and I told him it was women’s business and that he wouldn’t understand. The fifth story involved a mother drowning her twin boys in the bathtub, then she washed them off, shaved their hair, dressed them in flowing white skirts and told her neighbours that the boys had transformed into angels and then died in shock at the horror and evil present in the world. Oh, the soft sad quiet darkness. I prayed and prayed.
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The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.