...from the start of a short story. It's up on Evil Editor at the moment, and doing OK, despite the harrowing topic. It's a hard one to write, but I'd like to finish it, even if I have to do it bit by bit.
Ethan had the face of child, but the scalp of an old man. Tendrils of blue veins reached out under the pale skin, curving and parting like rivers searching for the sea. Rivers in winter, sluggishly winding under ice, compelled to struggle and flow to their destination, even when the surface lay still and silent.
Nothing in this room smelt of life, nothing offered freshness and perfume; only the sharp, nose-biting scent of intervention, blended with bleach, vomit and old food. On the bed Ethan was barely a wrinkle under the crisp-cornered sheets. The only thing that moved was his dummy, pumping in his mouth under closed eyes. The suck-suck-sucking sound of him working at the little rubber teat pulsed rhythmically against the humming of the machines propelling the medicine into his system. The machines that were keeping him alive.
Abby should have got rid of his dummy. Told him that if he’d give it to the poor kids Santa would bring him a special present. That’s what I did with my kids.
I suppose he can suck it for as long as he wants now.
‘Visit,’ her mother said, when she met me at the supermarket. ‘Please visit. They had lots of visitors at first; from the pre-school, from playgroup, but now…’ Her eyes gleamed bright with uncried tears, her mouth burst with unspoken words: ‘now there is no hope.’
‘They need their old friends,’ was what she actually said.