wimbledon in the western suburbs

There has been a murder next door.

I knew it was coming because in between my quickening heart I could hear the bash crash bang of furniture hitting walls and the manic screaming of a woman.

Before the night air became quiet and more menacing than the manic fighting, I heard her pretending to be a child. She was repeating herself over and over again.

Mummy.

Mummy.

Mummy.

What!

Oh, you’re crying like a baby.

You’re a baby.

You’re just a big sook like a baby.

Wah.

Wah.

Wah.

I pulled the pillow in tighter around my ears.

When the fence between our houses had stopped volleying bitter words backward and forward, I turned to the right and a tear escaped from my insides, rolling out of my eye and down my red cheek.

Duece.

These games are scary.

When I was a little girl, I curled up in a ball underneath my smurf polycotton sheets and I listened to my father ace my mother with the back of his hand.

Love forty.

There was never a crowd supporting either of them. Nor was there a coach lending better options, but I was there. I was always there. I sat in the front seat, where your nose bleeds and I watched every game. I knew when my mother was pretending and using trick shots to win and I knew when my father was playing unfair.

My neighbours play games too.

They slam their hearts backward and forward across the rooms of their house and sometimes a heart will roll out into the garden.

Out of bounds.

My windows are closed and the doors are shut, though through the walls and the air and the night that peace forgot, I can hear them.

She antagonizes him and he manipulates her and between the two of them, I think it’s a fair fight because they’re both as abusive as the other.

Until he throws a chair.

Or her.

Last night the thump was so loud and the silence afterwards was more deafening.

My heart skipped beats and I’m sure that in between the gaps of angst and anxiety I heard an angel.

What have I done?

I wanted to call the police but I’ve made that call more than once before and they always take so long to arrive.

Just another domestic.

But last night, the sirens sang urgency songs as the big white and red medic van sped toward our quiet little outer suburban street.

The angels and the ambulance raced each other to the scene and the middle aged man fell to the floor, rose to his feet and fell to the floor again.

What have I done!?

My bedroom walls lit up in a hypnotic red haze as the ambulance lights flashed in the street in front of my house.

The orchestra of chaos played the sound of banging doors, raised voices, a trolley on gravel and the words no, no, no whilst the starting of an engine signalled that the end was near whilst those lights spun and that siren song began again.

My bedroom turned blue and the police lights spun and spun and lit up the street.

And then there was silence.

I walked out onto my front porch and I sat still, whilst trying to roll a cigarette with wobbly hands.

I saw two policeman lead the man out of the house, down the driveway and into the back of a white law panel van.

They locked the van door with a clunk and a chang and my heart echoed those sounds.

They have children.

I wondered where their teenage children were and I wondered if it were better that it had ended or worse that it never would.

A new game had just begun.

© ryan

wimbledon in the western suburbs

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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