>FINGERS AND THUMBS

>All the way there there’s this image of the pot plant in my office, the one that Sadie bought be me for no particular reason one Thursday morning, surprising me in bed, trailing soil across the sheets, grinning like a satin bow. Now, on top of my filing cabinet, quietly ignored, the green on its leaves has faded to brown, its body gone from bendy happiness to a brittle brown.

I move the car through the thick darkness, joining dots across this familiar route made new by night. I watch shiny clean street signs loom like they do in horror movies as my headlights sweep across them. I turn up the radio to let the sounds swell up around me. I mentally flick through streets I drive through every day, trying to pinpoint the image of a large, blockish pharmacy. It’s so late at night my feet feel like they’re dreaming, pressuring the pedals only under someone else’s orders.

I scan the streets for neon guidance, but all that flashes at me is the details of the kitchen scene I’ve just fled: Robbie’s tiny arms, two underwater creatures squirming through the coral of his mother’s sleep-slung hair. Sadie slumping her shoulders towards the floor, talking to me as if I’m waiting down there, somewhere in the woodgrain. Then Robbie’s chest-cutting cough cuts at me in my head through the radio static and I imagine again that it’s his little heart making the rattle, his tiny whistle-pea heart.

I almost miss the pharmacy, of course. My mind is stuck somewhere else, like it always seems to be. The fridge ticking its secret midnight pattern. My son’s black hole of a mouth. The welts on Sadie’s forearm. As I pull into the carpark, I force my teeth together as tight as I can, forcing pressure high up my jaw, into my head. I focus on parking the car’s bonnet between the two white lines. A lone green sedan sits beside me. I think about locking my car, but I don’t.

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