Content warning: abuse
Blueberry scones. Louise recalled her mother baking them fragrant and buttery every Sunday morning. They left flour trails on the good porcelain dishware and corners of her mouth as they dined on the lawn. Their necks sheltered by the limbs of the poplar tree. Louise would blush with the heady kisses of the blueberries and peals of laughter. The poplar bared its fruits in that space, though its trunk was slim and its leaves almost translucent.
The air in the house took on an electrified vibe when he started coming around. In the parlour under definite drawls of “honey,” the coffee was bitter but jarring. It pooled black and inky as it rested on her knees. Back straight as she perched on the sofa, her lips painted cherry red to match her mothers. Daytime appearances seamlessly folded into nightly visits. Dresses were ironed carefully each time; their clean A-lines improved by the hundreds of tummy toners performed every morning. He brought new sound to the house too; concertos of harsh shouts that didn’t echo beyond the starched, checkered curtains. Her mother’s eyes shone like slivers of wet jewels- any drips that touched her cheeks wiped clean and painted over with cream-coloured powder. Tender spots of bruised flesh could be covered by wool as autumn closed in.
The ruts in her mother’s chin grew deeper and her mouth settled in placidity.
“I am making this work for us”, a mantra repeated as she pinched the earrings tight on her lobes and pulled her hair taut against her head. A golden egg exposed for the taking.
“It’s better for us to have a man,” she repeated somewhat apologetically as she pulled Louise down street to her ballet classes.
The screams washed over the house that evening. They rolled over the kitchen mouldings and crashed against the windowpanes. Louise dashed upstairs- it was time to seek higher ground. A wild female wail then a teacup flung- it sung as it fractured against the wall.
The dishes continued to fall downstairs. The crushing sound became definite and dependable, like the merging of orchestrated notes in her ballet classes.
“You’re just gonna do that all night are ya?”
No answer. Louise heard the front door slam. Piece after piece, they were hurled at the wall. She began to feel a rhythm.
Shattering. Release. He was gone- all these broken pieces were too difficult to tread on. She heard sobbing. The breaking continued. Alone in her bedroom, Louise started to spin. The merging of sound, performing under pressure. Was she straining? She didn’t think so. Among the wreck, she felt in her element. She wasn’t broken – her flesh withstood more than those brittle dishes. She tilted her head back – a dizzy distancing feeling crept in. For now she could cope. Soon enough she would rise from these fragments and pirouette away.
word by Keah Hansen
From the author: “The shattered tea cup- with its clean lines and dainty features- made me think of the strain women feel when upholding conventional beauty standards. Its brokenness inspired me to write about an abusive domestic relationship, and an experience of cathartic release for the female characters. While the mother smashes through her imposed constraints and repels her perpetrator, she is still cloistered within the traditional domestic sphere.”
colour by Fannie Gadouas
“I am an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, fiber arts and performance. My work explores issues pertaining to feminine, identity and experience. By re-appropriating various traditional imagery, techniques and rituals, I question and challenge the way gendered identity is constructed, inherited and perceived in western society. Textiles is, and has traditionally been associated with the feminine realm. Critically engaging with techniques such as weaving, knitting and embroidery allows me to subvert and question my own role as both woman and artist. In this sense, my practice as a whole becomes a performance in which the process holds more relevance than the resulting objects. Informed and greatly influenced by feminist theory, the work I produce is a critical response to the social structure of western society.”