by Claire Loader
The balls floated softly, gently, pushing off each other with the soft miasmic rhythms of jellyfish. Hot streams of air from the heater beside the rocking chair kissed their frilly edges, launching them out into space before falling back to hang, like clouds, like brains, like something out of the deep. Three lonely jellyfish, puffing their pastel hues in the corner of the bedroom.
I had bought them on Etsy, my belly nudging the mosaic summer table as I delicately unfolded each gossamer sheet. The tissue pom-poms emerging one by one from the layers in my hand, rustling softly as I gently hung them together in the nursery. I rocked as I watched them float and bob, as minutes took on the shape of hours, and I felt myself slip slowly down into the depths of the Atlantic. My whole being submerged.
For a moment, I wished I really was looking up toward the surface, that all I had to do was close my eyes and release myself to its depths. I wondered there, amid the waves, if it was salt water that choked him until he cried and cried as we rocked on our little island, threatened by the sea.
There had been no talk on Pinterest of the building tide, the sleepless roar that came to engulf me. There had only been greys and yellows, elephants and bunting. Whispers of perfection in untouched rooms, expectation reaching out from every tailored picture. No hint of the loneliness, the sleepless nights, the dark currents that sought to erode my grip on reality.
Purple, green, grey—we didn’t find out the sex. They had been the safe colors. The tissue now laughing at me from my memories, laughing at me from above the rocking chair. The murky waters of a midnight ocean, 4 a.m. and all alone.
His first birthday. The balloons nodding in the lounge, the smell of a single candle’s smoke slowly drifting in the air.
“Hasn’t the year flown. I bet you didn’t even feel it!”
I looked at the balloons, bobbing on their strings like buoys at the top of the water. The year spent counting hours, tethered by the weight of time.
“Yes, the year simply flew.” I smiled, nodding my head absently as I wondered then at the next one. My chest tightening at the thought that I hadn’t surfaced at all.
Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland. A photographer and writer, she was a recent winner in the Women Speak writing competition and blogs at www.allthefallingstones.com. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Crannóg, Dodging the Rain, The Bangor Literary Journal, and Crossways.