Linda Price

My selves

I enter the day seconds before the alarm clock rings its shrill whine. The bulging white light sifts through the blinds and streaks across the bundled shapes that curl around me – the children bundles that mark my life.

I creep out from under the covers and anticipation tickles the nape of my neck. Will I stand upright as a separate, independent creature? Will I reach the kettle as a single entity? The smallest bundle wriggles and stretches. Her jiggle ripples into the bundle alongside her and two curly circles rise out from the huddle. They are my beginning, my middle and my end. Within seconds we are one again.

I tiptoe out of the room with bulging hips. We trace our way down the stairs and are greeted by the twisting cheer of the dogs. We collapse onto the bottom step and dissolve into moist caresses. And so begins the morning activity: porridge bubbling, kettle stinging, lunch-boxes filling, dog bowls clanking, voices singing, clothes clinging, doors banging and tyres gripping.

And all the while I am waiting to be still. I am naively waiting to capture time. My net is reeling to pounce on a fixed clump of quiet.

Once the children have been deposited into school, I wrap my scarf against the icy wind and re-trace my steps to my waiting vehicle. I bounce onto the front seat and reach for the news broadcast. As I navigate my way into my own space a list of possible activities lengthens along my spine. The constant over-arching conviction that there is much to be accomplished unravels into tributaries of singular ‘musts.’

Each item is framed by a particular identity: mother, worker, shopper, repairer, lover, sister, daughter, owner, driver, friend, cook, niece, cousin. Multiple selves coincide all over my body. I mould and shape myself into the requirements of each one and every time I look in the rear-view mirror my expression has altered.

I veer my car off the whizzing high-way. I close my eyes and reel my net inwards. My breath expands as the grainy fabric nestles gently against my innards. I can feel the force of gravity with each exhalation. Oxygen travels along the length of my legs and roots me into the earth. My selves collapse into a single pulse.

And much later in the still of the night, I toss through sleep and blow a kiss towards the robust bodies that beat against the silent knowing of my soul.

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