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I stayed home that night - Laura B. Van Vorst

working on my art homework, my papier-mâché fingers draping uneven words on soggy cardboard limbs; paste dripping on the dark wood of the kitchen table; the old black CD player in the corner, volume stuck on twenty-four, the song I wouldn’t be able to listen to a decade after. Don’t let me be the last to know.

The phone sliced the night in two; before and after. A turnstile at the railway station. No going back.

I asked how you were but Mum avoided my question. I wonder if the shortbread noticed, half eaten on my plate, a quarter batch still left in Tupperware, waiting for its chance to shine.

I rang Mum’s boss to tell him she’d be late. I’m so sorry Laura. His tone soft with sympathy – mistaken – I shook my head, a disbelief he didn’t see.

My Mum and Dad are on their way home.

Twenty-two years on, I hear that breath between the lines and my scars glow hot like fresh burns, dread ignited with half-stories, abandoned biscuit crumbs falling to the floor, ears straining for footsteps around the corner.

The unturned stones are where the worries live.

The phone rings, and I have to answer it.


Laura B. Van Vorst grew up in Northern Ireland and now lives in Sydney, Australia. Working for the past 13 years as a registered psychologist, she has learned that so much of our experience, while specific, is also universal. It is only by sharing our stories that we learn that we are not alone, and this is what allows healing to begin. She has been published in the online zine Cothumos, and is currently working on a collection of poems titled 'Troublemaker (and other self portraits)'. You can find her poetry on Instagram


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