The Pillows

The Pillows


I manage to slip out of the office at midday, hoping that what I have done for the day will be enough. I curse underneath my breath as the throbbing in my head slowly turns into a pounding, and the stars in my eyes begin to turn into light blue rays. As I close the gate, I bump into my boss, not the one I like, and when he says, ‘Again, dresses above the knee are not allowed here,’ I struggle to keep my fists in my pocket instead of his face.

I get home just in time as the sun slips through my bedroom window. But today is not the day I dance to the rhythm of its brightness. Today is not the day I scribble a thousand words onto my vision board, trying hard to finish before the orange fades away from my window. Today is not the day I caress the spines on my bookshelf, savoring their sight, and wishing I could fill up the spaces quick enough.

Today is the day I jump right into the bed, and talk to the pillows.

Lately, I have been having meaningful conversations with them; the pillows. Ever since he left, Jason, I have been pouring my heart to them; the pillows. I have been crying into them. I have been asking them questions. I have been finding myself through their silence. I have been hiding from them, whenever I felt their stares were too accusing to bear. I have been letting them in on my secrets. I have let them know my fears; dying poor, dying young. Dying unplanned. Dying planned. Dying afraid. Dying too sure. Dying as if there is nothing left in life.

I have been telling them my fear; DYING.

Today, as I slip in between the sheets, I want to throw them, the pillows, under the bed. Why? They stare too much, as if wondering why I am home early. As if wondering why I have stolen into their alone time. As if trying to tell me, ‘No, not today. We do not have the strength to handle you today.’

They stare too long, as if they are on the verge of bursting with bad news.

Nevertheless, I sleep. No, I close my eyes so to wish the pounding in my head away, as I make a mental note, again, to buy antiglare glasses. Ah, is that why Jason left? Because he kept saying, ‘buy antiglares’. And I kept saying, ‘tomorrow’. Buy. Tomorrow. Buy. Tomorrow. It became a not so nice song, till it wore his heart out and off he went.

I place my head against my favorite pillow, the softest of them all and suddenly, there is a million needles flashing through my entire system. Like there is 50,000 volts suddenly cruising through my system. Like I have stepped on wet floor, and suddenly my body won’t stop rolling down the staircase.

I shoot straight up and instead, I hit my forehead right against my bedside lamp, which obeys the trend and crashes into a thousand pieces at the foot of my bed. The half-full bottle of red wine, as if taking a long awaited baton, tumbles over and spills the contents on the white bedside rug.

It takes time as the rug absorbs the red, and the rugged circle enlarges with time. If I look closely, it looks like those emojis we send whenever we are angry. Or tired. Or indifferent. Or confused. Those ones we send when we are too tired to type, “You really are bothering me. Stop.”

In my head, I can hear the crackling laughter of my pillows as they hug each other; laughing at my misery, continually pushing me away from their space.

I reach for my handbag to retrieve my phone, because I realize the pounding will not go away without medicine.

13 missed calls. Mum? Why?

I power off the phone, drown two pills with a mouthful of water, and find my comfort on the sofa, leaving the mess that is my bedroom behind.

There is a pounding, again. Then silence. More pounding, and a shrieking voice in the distance. There is a ponding louder than that in my head; on my door.

I struggle to squint my eyes open in the light, and then Jason’s voice fills the air;

“Dione! Open up, Dione! Diiiiiiiiiiione!”

There is a dizziness in my system as I make my way towards the door, stepping on a leftover piece of pizza from yesterday. The cheese lines the sole of my left foot and I think I need to puke.

I swallow, hard, and make it to the door.

The pounding on the door stops when Jason sees my face. He pushes past me and falls face down on the couch. The tremble on his shoulders and sniffs in his nose remind me of silent nights. Nights when he cried himself to sleep. Nights when he stayed awake as I drooled away to dreamland. Reminds me of his cries in the morning at the sink. Reminds me of our not so lovely conversations:

Him: Why do you do that?

Me: What do I do?

Him: Why do you like silence so much?

Me: Don’t you?

Him: It pushes me away, when I so much want to help?

Me: Why do you want to help?

Him: Because you need it; the help.

Me: I am past the helping stage. I am coping.

The creases on his shirt remind me of the day he left. The darkness in his eyes as he slipped the note into my hand, too afraid of his own voice.

I have tried, Dione, but you continue to drive me to the edge. I do not think I can handle all these anymore.

I push the pounding in my head to the back, just as I do to my demons, and sit beside him. He sniffs, once, twice, and then sits up.

The note in his hand finds its way to my laps, and as I unfold it, the pounding in my head turns into a ringing that suddenly cannot be contained at the back of my head.

Your mum, Dione. Your mum just died.

I remember my phone; the missed calls, but lack the courage to power it on. I remember the bedside lamp. The wine. The rug. The short dress. The pounding. THE PILLOWS.

I struggle to my feet, with Jason’s eyes in tow, and collapse on the bed.

I do not ask how she died. I do not ask why. I do not struggle to find out why she called just before she died. I do not ask anything that surrounds her ’sudden’ death; I had seen it coming. I do not ask what I can do to help the others. I just know, deep down, that I do not care, and I am not going to the burial.

I slip, once again into the bedsheets, as I feel the pounding in my head dying out slowly. I adjust myself into the mess that is my bedroom; a reflection of my life.

This time round, the pillows warm up to me. They press softly against my tiny body. They sigh, warmly, and place their arms around my waist. Even though I know I will wake up to a ‘Please do not show up today in a short dress’ text from my boss, I know I have dealt, completely, with one of my demons.

The coping continues.

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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down, an anthology of short stories and If My Bones Could Speak, a poetry collection. She also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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