Use The Pillow Your Mum Sleeps On / New Flash Fiction

This piece will appear in my forthcoming book ‘In The Hours Of Darkness.’

Use The Pillow Your Mum Sleeps On


My Dad wants me to kill him. He wants me to put a pillow over his face and hold it there until he stops breathing. He wants me to do it while Mum is shopping, buying chocolate Complan he won’t drink. Mum doesn’t know about this. She doesn’t know that it won’t be his bodily fluids that suffocate him, but his own daughter.


I haven’t agreed yet exactly, but standing here, looking into the mirror flecked with salt from so many tears and spots of toothpaste, I can hear him crying. A crying that comes when something really, really hurts. “Do it while your Mum is at Tesco. We have about twenty five minutes.” Dad never found the lid to the bottle of shaving cream. The top where the cream comes out has a thick, off-white crust. He hasn’t used it for months now. He hasn’t needed to. The chemo took care of all of the hair on his body. I want to get rid of the bottle. Shove it deep into the overflowing little peddle bin, but the thought that a doctor might burst through the front door and leg it up the stairs with a cure that could save him stops me. I want to think that he’ll use it again. That he’ll run the top under some water and squeeze some of the foam into his cupped hand. I like to think that one of these days he’ll wear stubble.


I pick up my pair of tweezers from the windowsill. They’re hot. The sun has been beating down on them. I attack a black fleck under the curve of the other hairs. My hands shake. I draw blood and miss the tiny hair still under the skin. I’m unsure as to how long I’ve been in here for, but Dad has quietened down now. I hope he’s changed his mind. I step over the pile of dirty washing. I can see the leather skirt I wore last week, when I went out and got wreaked and fucked the barman behind the club. He didn’t look at my face. I guess I was too far gone. I’m wearing the slippers Nanna bought me for Christmas when I was still raging through my teens. They’re in the shape of wolf paws. It’s summer and they’re too hot. But they make me feel safe. Sort of.


Dad struggles to turn and look at me. Everything consumes so much energy. “Before she gets back love.” His words are barely audible. Tears fall strong and steady. He smiles and sighs. His breath smells like a dishwasher that has been left filled with dirty dishes for days. But I kiss him on the lips anyway. It’s been over a decade since I’ve done that. I take some of the dry skin from his lips away with me. “Use your Mum’s pillow.” I pick it up. I can smell her coconut shampoo. I sink against Dad. Against the man who used to throw me in the air and catch me. He lets out a little sigh. “My lovely, little brave girl.” I hold the pillow in one hand, take his fingers with the other. They feel like toothpicks, not like the firm roots I held on my first day of school. I kiss his face again, all over, his skin smooth like fiberglass. I kiss his ragged lips. “I’m looking forward to the silence,” he says. “My body has never been so noisy.” I hold the cotton pillow over his face and apply pressure.