Accident

By Mhairi Mackay

I really didn’t mean to hit him with the car. That’s the truth. Even though everyone knew I hated him, it was a genuine accident. Even if I had looked, I probably wouldn’t have seen him, but it was undeniably my fault that he was dead.


I remember reading while I was pregnant about emotions, and how I would become eloquently compassionate towards all living things, like the mother fox who ushers an orphaned bear cub to her breast with her other tiny foxlets.


That wasn’t me. I felt like a soldier from the trenches returning home devastated. I had suffered for a week then I was drugged, slashed open then kicked home with a screaming potato, a box of painkillers and a welcome pack of warnings that still lay in a suitcase of mould-smelling clothes at the bottom of the stairs.


I was no nurturer. I wasn’t one of those wonderful mothers who could knit a reusable nappy whilst breastfeeding, simultaneously singing word-perfect rhymes and accommodating nuisance in-laws. I was possibly a bleach drinker or a traffic dancer, someone who might be inspired.


I wasn’t meant to be outside, but I hadn’t smelled fresh air since they deposited me at the front door with the potato.  When the potato slept, I could move around and pretend I was me again. I missed my long drives with my crisps and juice and songs. Maybe that’s why I started the car. I wanted to hear the engine and smell the petrolly dusty smells. A small manoeuvre would be enough. Just close my eyes and feel the pedals.


It was barely an accident. Barely a hit. Nobody would believe that though. I wasn’t credible anymore. I had lost my marbles to the mothering disease and I should have been hiding in my hole with my boobs out and my brain in the sink.


I should have felt sorry, but I didn’t. I really hated him. I hated the way he used to watch me from his window when I came home from work. He would sneer at me from the garden and I would always be the first one to break the stare because he made me so uncomfortable. He relished in it. He was a bully and he treated everyone with the same chauvinistic disrespect.


He would often stand at his door, shouting to his woman to let him in or to get his dinner ready. She would let him treat her with such abusive disrespect and she didn’t even bother to hide the marks he left on her. It was disgusting. Of all the neighbours to have, he was the most despicable, the most twisted and the most sinister, yet people failed to see it. They saw the gentleman, the fancy attire, the schmoozer.


I saw him late one evening using my African violets as a toilet. He knew I could see him but he swanned off knowing that he had such luscious power. If I had called the police they would have laughed and accused me of time-wasting.


I sat on the toilet seat for a long time, looking at his lifeless body in the bath. I was in fiery pain from getting him there, and I was truly exhausted. My eyes were fixed through him and my futile mind was battling the vapour, trying to decide what to do.


The police really would have been useless. My neighbours would have found out and run me out of town because of their admiration of him. My family would have lectured. I would have lost my licence for driving in my condition and gone to jail for murdering without valid insurance.


I had two weeks before my husband came home. I had two days before the midwife called round again. I maybe had two minutes before the potato needed me. I had to make sure I did a clean job and disposed of this disaster. I could deal with this. I just needed to think.


I waited until the next round of feeding, burping, vomiting, nappying, screaming and drowsiness had rolled around before I returned to the bathroom with the knives, gloves, bags, nose plug, bleach, goggles and music.


It was much easier than I thought. My dad’s knife sharpening skills certainly made the bones easy to deal with. I decided to keep my eyes open. I didn’t have any vocabulary left for mistakes. I told myself that this revenge was delicious. I wasn’t a convincing liar but it was good enough.


I had to stash the parts in the freezer in the garage. I needed to keep the stench to a minimum while I took care of the disposal. I could have used the bin but it was risky. I wasn’t allowed to move the bin yet and anyone could lift the lid and smell the death. I also worried about haunting, and a proper disposal might help towards a peaceful afterlife.


The head was first to go. It was important. It had the sneering looks, the memories and the identity. I managed to ram it into the bottom of the pram and I got as far as the path to the woods before I knelt on my squashy mat with my trowel.


There were seven burials altogether. I managed it all in a week. He was dispersed around his town in beautiful places and I’m sure that if he could put aside the accidental murder, I think he would have been pleased with the arrangements.


Then the day came when she arrived at the door, forlorn and worried. I spied her from the landing window and watched. Eventually she gave up. I knew my silence was much better than my terrible lying.


As she left, I felt a sudden urge to ease her pain, but stopped myself like an ugly brake. I fondled the little red velvet collar in my pocket, the one with the little bell, the bell that never jingled loudly enough the day I reversed over him.


Keywords: 
car accident, motherhood, animals, accident, confession