By Zoë Meager
Amelia arrives alone, I mean of course she does. The passage too narrow, too specific for more than one person at a time. When she arrives she cannot open her eyes or even lift her head, but it isn’t an impediment. She senses everything.
The room is the living room of her favourite apartment. The light falls in the same way from the same broad window, but the furniture is gone, the walls decorated only with that off-white which is the colour of white with a sunset bounced off it.
She wants her mother.
Over there is her mother, younger than she remembers. What is she doing?
Smoking. And what’s that on her face?
Black makeup under a black curtain of hair. And how does she look?
Beautiful, as she sits there cross-legged, laying out cards. “Hey, far out,” her mother says with a wave of her cigarette, “the six of cups.”
This room always glowed, Amelia thinks, at any time of the day as if the day were already ending. And now she knows that’s what she always liked about it. It’s her ending colour.
“They stopped making this paint, Mum. Do you remember? We ended up papering over it.”
Amelia’s mother just grins and points at the door, bracelets jangling. A heady cloud of talcum powder and gin, and Amelia’s grandma skips in, wearing a gym frock that is muddied and torn.
“But you never saw this apartment.” Amelia invited her so many times. Her grandmother is chasing a cat and when she turns quickly, ectoplasm spills out behind her. “Grandma?”
“It’s cool,” Amelia’s mother says, beginning an ecstatic dance, the velvet of her skirt saying shush shush around her, “her bonds are getting looser.”
Amelia sits there, catching the car rides and campsites that fall from her mother’s skirt. Catching the storybook beginnings, the sidetracks and silences.
“Hey kid,” her mother says, waving her arms at the ceiling, “You know I really dig your taste in sunsets.”
Zoë Meager is from Aotearoa New Zealand and has a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Auckland. Her short stories have been commended and published at home and abroad, including winning the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, Pacific Region, 2013. Recent work has appeared in Turbine | Kapohau, Landfall, and Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand. There’s more at zoemeager.com