A Terrible Accident

As I walked up the path, I knew the front door shouldn’t be open.  And there was Joan from next door, blocking my path and saying why don’t I go with her to her house and have a nice cup of tea and maybe a chocolate digestive biscuit.  And she held out her arms across the door and even though she was a big woman, I ducked and ran right past her and into the kitchen, with her shouting for me not to go in there.

That’s when I saw our other neighbor, the man who kept rabbits and had to drown some of them because he had too many.  He was mopping the floor and he didn’t look up because he was deaf.  But he knew I was there, standing at the kitchen door, with Joan right behind me trying to pull me back.

The kitchen wallpaper was decorated with roses.  Mum loved those roses but not that black-brown stain that went halfway up the wall from where the fumigator sprayed his poison.  At least it killed those lice, wherever they came from.  And now the wallpaper had another color.  It was sprayed with purple-red and some of it was going brown.  You can make purple, I thought, by mixing blue and red together.

And under the kitchen table was another purple-red puddle that looked like a clown’s face, smiling up at me.  Even the cat’s bowl was full of purple-red liquid.  But the cat was gone.  And so was my sister.  I hated my sister but I was worried about the cat.

It was later that evening that I found the cat, alive outside our backdoor.  But my sister wouldn’t be coming home anytime soon.  There had been a terrible accident.

At ten years old, I was too young to be told the truth.  But I know now, here in another place, older of course.  I know now that the stains couldn’t be washed off the wallpaper.  But it was easy to wash the blood off the cat’s bowl.

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