When I saw Eva last she was active and laughing and was talking of going to college her mother said looking down at her daughter’s body on the slab surrounded by others she didn’t know and as she stared at her daughter’s body lying there half covered unmarked no sign of injury no sign of hurt but still and motionless too motionless to be sleeping or even pretending to be sleeping as her daughter sometimes did as a child when she entered her room to see if she was sleeping and knew that she wasn’t but pretended she thought she was both of them pretending both playing the game but now there was no pretence no game playing and the arrival of the police and their talk and the rush to the hospital and the soft conversation with doctors and the police again and did she know how her daughter had died? How would I know? She replied then the body lying there the room silent no one talking no one showing emotion no tears or signs of weeping just she the mother standing there looking at the body that had grown inside her the flesh she had brought into being a doctor spoke suddenly of suffocation of fighting for breath of a dramatic death she looked again at the corpse at the skin at the paleness she touched a hand ran fingers up the arm smooth skin soft cold someone spoke she ran her fingers over the chest touched the shoulder something heaved inside her a twisting in her stomach as if an invisible hand twisted gripped her intestines she kissed the cheek lips on skin softly kissed and kissed someone whispered another coughed how? She asked but no one replied who? She uttered she tried to think who her daughter knew who would have done this who had suffocated her who had placed hand over the mouth or cushion maybe? She looked at the others about her she sought answers who and why and how inside her head her hand felt the fingers stiffening rubbed the skin remembered holding the hand crossing roads how the hand had squeezed inside hers had tickled and now as she looked at the motionless hand she began to feel the unfolding of loss as if a huge chasm had opened beneath her the realization that her

daughter would never speak to her again would never hold her hand or squeeze it or lay her head on her breast when confessing some small sin did she suffer? She asked looking around at the others someone spoke not much they said over too soon another said she put her head on her daughter’s chest listened for heartbeats she knew would not come but hoped it would hoped it was a dream that she would awaken from the cold dream she sniffed the skin some hint of her daughter’s perfume hint of her daughter’s smell a mother knows it she mused instinct there was talk about her conversations between two others she closed her eyes pretended she could hear a heartbeat could sense a pulse she recalled the last time she held her daughter the other day before her trip away the farewell kiss the waving of hands the laughter there still talking around her she tried to shut it out it disturbed her she remembered the day she first held Eva in the hospital the small warm body the tiny bundle of cloth and flesh and smell of baby and sick and waste and how she had hugged her and kissed the pink skin and rubbed the hair she recalled the first words the first walking steps there was drugs in her system someone said she opened her eyes no couldn’t be she said standing up looking about her she wouldn’t take drugs she wouldn’t she’d been drugged a voice said beside her there was semen present no there must have been a mistake she heard herself say she knew no one no boy she stared at Eva lying there tried to see where others had touched her who had felt her skin and entered her and drugged her and undone her she gazed at her daughter’s eyelids leaned over and kissed them one at a time sensed the soft skin on her lips sensed no movement no flutter the lips of Eva were closed no longer to speak or laugh or kiss or blow kisses from her hand a she did at night before bed the nose she looked at Eva’s nose no more to sniff or smell tears entered her eyes all became glassy and blurry she wanted to hold and touch and not let go she could see only the outline she wiped her eyes all too real to sight and mind her child dead and still and silent and stolen away no more to hold her and kiss her after this day.

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