The unexpected sound of the doorbell makes her jump. She was falling into the muddled sleep of those who haven’t rested in a while.
Her hand was laying lightly on the baby’s stomach, and the satisfied, deep breathing of the little girl had made up for the odd angle it was at, her wrist resting on the edge of the Moses basket.
She stirs and looks around, the mess the flat had become, the soiled nappy in the purple sack – as if the sickening talcum smell could mask the unpleasantness of it – the dusty shelves, the dishes piled high in the sink.
She shuffles towards the door, wincing with every step, and opens it, aware of her hair, her breath, her state.
Poppy stands there, holding a large bunch of flowers.
“Darling! Congratulations! You look so well, how’s the little bundle?”
Apparently bringing flowers makes up for turning up unannounced.
“Come in,” she says, not meaning it.
While Poppy coos over Millie, she gets a vase from the cupboard and starts to unwrap the flowers.
Somewhere, everywhere, babies are dying, starving, beaten, drowned.
Shiny red bow. War. Dead bodies piled high in pools of blood. Abandoned children roaming devastated streets.
Cellophane. Rape. A woman held down, legs forced apart, screaming.
Flowers. Death. What she’s inevitably edging towards. Her, Millie, Matt, everyone.
Vase. Coffins. Slowly entering a furnace. Crackling in the flames until they turn to ash.
She blinks the visions away. Puts the vase on the table and smiles.
“Thank you for the gorgeous flowers, my darling. I love them. Cuppa?”
B.F. Jones is French and lives in the UK. She has stories in various online magazines, Storgy, Cabinet of Heed, Back Patio, Bending Genres, Spelk, An Elephant Never and her collection, The Fabric of Tombstones, will be out in Spring 2020.