You learn this word is unfit for purpose. Some nights lying awake whilst he fidgets is manageable, other nights you are resentful that only he sleeps soundly with his face up against your ribs. Bed-sharing is even less suitable a word because sharing is reciprocal. You resist movement in the most awkward of positions to aid his sleep. Sometimes he might take over an hour to settle and his head burrowing in to your stomach makes you back off the edge of the bed. At times when you should be asleep, you imagine what sleep feels like and pretend to sleep until his uneven breaths remind you about being awake. There will rarely be a time in which you are mutually sleeping.
At the tram stop you snap off some of his biscuit to taste the shortbread. He cries hard when he sees his biscuit broken and you watch him try to stick the two pieces together to resume its former symmetry. He gives them to you for repair but the two shards lie useless in your hands. On the tram home, people stare at him, plum red and squealing, and you, pale, counting down stops.
You started with one of each; you lost them. Two more came, much later, and both the bluest of blues, yet now, when you speak of the two you lost, people like to remind you how blessed you are to have accumulated the same number you started with when others have none. Some nights you submerge your head under the bath water and the run of the tap is a boom and you think about all that milk, no two mouths to drink it.
Rachael Smart writes short fiction and poetry. Recent work is published in The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 2018 and upcoming in Unthology 11.
Artist Statement about My world is Small by Clare Hansford
Pencil and pen on paper
In this drawing you get a peek into a very private world. Me and my child resting, not knowing for sure if it is day or night. Many hours of every day in this tiny world with forgotten cups of tea and lights left on. Different angles on the bed each time, but I always curled around my baby, protecting him.