By Paul O’ Mahony

The kitchen window, which usually had a view of the garden, fogged up at dinner time so not even our reflections could be seen. One rainy Monday when dinner was undercooked, a frying pan flew through it, piercing the afternoon. The noise left me deaf and for a moment all was suspended between cause and consequence. For that brief breath it blanketed the blame. I looked outside at a robin feeding on a worm. I thought about the stories my grandmother would tell, about how, if a robin entered the house, it was a sign of an impending death in the family. I wondered if it would come in through the shattered window. I wished it would.

Stupid. Stupid bitch. Stupid. Stupid fool. Stupid. Slut. Stupid slut. Home late. Stupid”.

When the sound came back I wasn’t standing anymore. My body, hunched and narrowed, was motionless beneath the kitchen table. If I didn’t see the faces I could pretend it wasn’t real. Sometimes I’d stay there for hours before they would notice. When the crying moved down the hallway to the bedroom, it meant there would be a pause, at least for a while. Some nights I would leave my window open all night so that the things that might come could come and so that the things that could leave might go.

Stupid. Don’t go. I hate you. Come back. Get out. Don’t go. Please. Stop. Please. Please. Please”.

At six in the morning I woke to the sound of a nothing. Lifting the blankets from over my head, I wiped the blood from my arms and stuffed my clothes behind the mirror. Then unlocking the window I took a breath and stepped out into the falling snow. By the time I turned around I could see the last wisp of smoke ascend and hoped she would forgive me. On a cold October morning a Robin guided me away.


Paul O’ Mahony is a writer from a tiny village in County Cork, on the southern coast of Ireland. He holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain, and a BA in English and New Media from the University of Limerick, in Ireland. Paul has lived in 7 countries, spanning 3 continents—South America, Europe, and Australia.

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