She woke me up again this morning, so early it was really still late at night. She is surprisingly heavy-footed for such a small child as she runs backwards and forwards above my head, trailing giggles.
On a good day, that’s all she does, run and giggle, and I can pretend to myself that that’s all that will ever happen.
Today isn’t a good day, though. Her giggles turn into a shout, then a scream of terror and the thump-thump-thump of something small but heavy falling down a flight of stairs. Then there is silence, and the silence is by far the worst part.
I live in a flat and there are no stairs, but in the right light you can see where they used to be when this was just a normal house, with a normal family with a normal, noisy small child laughing and playing upstairs. Sometimes I think you can also see the marks where her blood pooled when she finally finished falling, but I have been assured that the floorboards were all replaced when the house was divided, so that must just be my morbid imagination.
The coroner, having expressed her heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved parents, ruled that it was an accident, and even the muckiest of muck-raking newspapers found no reason to suggest otherwise.
I will keep my silence, too, because who would believe me if I told them that I know something about the tragic end of a little girl who died before I was even born? So only here, protected by the anonymity of the internet, can I tell anyone that, before her giggles turn to screams, a small girl’s ghost still shouts out “Mummy, don’t push me…”
(Although I’m sure I don’t need to say it, this is a work of fiction. The heavy-footed small child who lives upstairs and inspired this story is alive and well, and long may she remain so, even if she does sometimes wake me up at stupid o’clock running around playing with her little sister!)