Chapter no 49

Then She Was Gone


Ellie lay on the bed. The moon shone down on her, waxy blue; the foliage outside rustled in a sharp breeze, crackling and popping like distant fireworks. She tried to swing her legs off the bed, but they were too weak. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten. Six days ago? Maybe seven?

She was partway to delirium, but still aware on some subliminal, terrifying level that she had been abandoned. She could hear her baby crying upstairs from time to time and an ache would emanate from her heart to every point on her body. But she had no voice to call with and no will to live. Her head was pulsing, aching, sending her strange pictures, flashes of imagery, like scenery lit up at night by strikes of lightning. She saw her mother, stirring a teabag in a mug. She saw her father, zipping up his jacket. She saw Theo, throwing a ball for his little white dog. She saw Noelle, turning over her homework, sliding her glasses up her nose. She saw a house they’d rented in the Isle of Wight one summer. She saw the pale brown pony that stood in a field at the bottom of the garden, eating apples from their hands. She saw Poppy, lying on her back on Ellie’s bed, making Os with her tiny red mouth. She saw Hanna, twirling her head around and around, her waist-length ponytail spinning above her head like a propeller. She saw her own funeral. She saw her mother crying. Her father crying. She saw the corpses of her dead hamsters sprinkled on top of her coffin like sods of earth.



She saw herself floating above her coffin.

She saw herself floating higher and higher. Below her she saw her room. Her sofa bed. The grimy, unwashed bedsheets, the tangled knot of duvet. The plastic cages filled with death. The bin overflowing with empty crisp packets. The blocked toilet bowl streaked brown with rust and bacteria.

She crossed her arms across her chest. She closed her eyes.

She let herself float higher and higher until she could feel the clouds against her skin, until she could feel her mother’s arms tight around her, her breath against her cheek.

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