Emtumblemen

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Ella was crouching in the corner of her room, where the blue wall met the purple. She was covering her eyes because, as all 4 year olds know, this makes you especially hard to find in a game of hide and seek. She could suddenly smell her mother Julia’s perfume, it was a strong dewy scent and it got up her nose! She could feel that she was being tickled, and she knew it was her mum even though Julia was in a different part of the house. This had happened before, but never during hide and seek! The tickling had now moved to the bottom of her feet and she could never suppress a foot tickle giggle (can anyone?). She let out a squeal of laughter and Julia raced to the door of her bedroom with a cheeky grin on her face, “Found you, monkey!”. Ella was sat cross-legged on the floor with her bottom lip sticking out, “Not fair mummy, you used emtumblemen! That’s cheating!” Julia sidled up beside her daughter and scooped her into her arms “I’m sorry baby, no more entanglement when playing hide and seek… deal?” she playfully bopped her daughter on the nose. Ella smiled, “Silly mum, your perfume always gets up my nose!”

Ella was walking home from school, her bag filled to the brim with school books tugging on her already aching back. Her phone buzzed in her blazer pocket. How was school today bella?xxxx, text from mum. Ella began typing: 'It was great thanks, mum'… she deleted the lie and tried again. 'It was ok. Those girls were nasty again, but I’m ok. How was work?xx'. She got home and dumped her bag and herself on the sofa, flicking on the TV and trying not to think of how much she hated everything right now. Her phone buzzed again. 'Entangle?xxx it’s worth it, am in ur favourite placexx', it read. Ella did not want that right now, for Julia to know what it was like to be her, she didn’t want her mum to know how bad that felt. That familiar dewy scent was swirling around her, guess I don’t have a choice, she thought. First she felt awful, her feelings of loneliness and worthlessness magnified by sharing them; but then she could smell sugar and strawberries and sherbet (The old sweet shop!) and her mother’s warmth embraced her. All she could feel then, was love. She heard the faint sound of Elvis’ you were always on my mind in the background… of course mum’s listening to Elvis, she thought. She drifted off to sleep.

She had been looking forward to going home for Christmas for months, but her boss had other ideas. It was Christmas eve and she was sat at her table with an unfinished report in front of her, bah humbug. She had told her mum that she wasn’t coming back for Christmas this morning, and even though her grandparents would be at home this year so Julia wouldn’t be on her own, she still felt sad. She hadn’t been home in six months. She poured herself a glass of wine and stared at her empty flat, a few pathetic decorations lining the walls. It was nearing midnight when she finished her work, but she decided that now was as good a time as any to bake her mum’s famous apple pie. She put on her favourite Christmas playlist and got to baking. 'Miss you mum', she text as the oven dinged: her pie was ready. 'Entangle?' Her mum replied. 'Yes, PLEASE!xxx'. She could smell her apple pie… or was that her mum’s apple pie? It was such a strong smell, though not strong enough to overpower Julia’s perfume that was now filling the kitchen. She could hear her Christmas playlist, the exact same song amplified from her mum’s kitchen. Julia and Ella laughed together in the early hours of Christmas morning.

Ella stared at the little stick in her hand. She couldn’t remember ever being this nervous before. Could I really be pregnant? she thought, well there are only two possibilities: yes or no. And if no? she asked herself, you carry on with your great life. If yes? Another little question, “I don’t know!” she answered herself with a deep sigh. There it was, two lines. The answer was yes. 'Mum, I need you.' That familiar smell and warmth engulfed her as she sat on her bed, she felt a hand stroking her hair. What do I do, Mummy, she thought. Exhausted from it all, she drifted off to sleep. Her phone buzzed a few seconds later. 'Whatever you do I’ll support you Ella, you’re a marvel and I’m always so proud of you. I’ll call when you wake up. I love you x'

Ella unlocked her front door and plugged her phone into the wall. She’d had a long day and the baby had not stopped kicking. She placed a hand on her stomach “come on little one, have a little rest for mumma, please?” She said playfully. Her stomach jerked again. Guess not, she thought. Her phone sparked into life, 1 new voicemail. Ella, it was her granddad Frank, Ella… his voice broke… I’m so sorry, you have to come home.

It had been four weeks since the funeral. Ella was lying in her old room, staring at the corner where the blue wall meets the purple. She hadn’t cried. Not once. She hadn’t slept much either. Stroking her stomach, she whispered “I’ll get it together for you, baby. I promise. I just miss her.” She closed her eyes. The sun was beginning to stream through the window. Ella’s eyes flickered open as the faint tones of Elvis Presley floated to her ears. She suddenly felt a peculiar but familiar warmth and for the first time in a month, she felt safe. A soft dewy scent permeated all around her. Ella started to cry… Silly mum, your perfume always gets up my nose.

About the Author: 
I am a quantum computing PhD student, I love fiction and physics in equal measure.