Erona grew up in a world without corners; in a cottage of rounded edges, nestled securely in a world of rolling hills. Blankets softened the floor and the windows were circular. The cottage had no chairs, only bean bags; no tables, only trays carved into gentle curves. Erona lived with her mum, Hannah, a taciturn epileptic, who said little and never hugged too close. Life was slow up in the hills, where civilization didn’t stray. They grew their own food, they stitched their own clothes. Time barely passed and the clouds circled.
Every day Erona would sit in her favourite tree, stroking the bark and watching storms play on the horizon.
Hannah would tell her,
‘It’s just you and me. There’s no one left out there, you can stop looking.’ But Erona wasn’t looking, she was just letting her eyes dance and her mind drift, she believed that was her role. That and pushing her mum onto her side when the fits came. As the spasms passed, Erona would hold her close.
Erona wasn’t expecting anything unusual when a man appeared over the horizon with a briefcase. She watched from her tree as he knocked on the door and Hannah answered, her face switching from puzzlement to rage. He was only looking to buy some land, he said in a prepared speech. Some ‘surreal estate’ he said with a chuckle into Hannah’s furious face. She slammed the door, but the damage was done, now Erona knew there was somewhere and someone else.
It was a year before she left, taking baked rolls and a blanket, walking out to where she could sometimes see light glinting in the hills. Hannah gave her all the savings she had, but never said goodbye.
It was two days before Erona reached the town. Noise and panic whipped the air into a frenzy, the walls were too many and surfaces jutted out at all angles. Expressions were brittle, at snapping point. Erona couldn’t seem to find a gap that fitted her, wherever she stood, she was in the way; wherever she walked, she stumbled. People shoved and tutted, wheelie suitcases and shopping bags moshed against her legs. All around her was the flow of purpose, and she interrupted it with her bewildered hesitation. The horizon was gone, the sky was gone, folded up into small boxes.
Eventually, Erona scurried for a hotel so that she could barricade herself from the noise, paying out money she didn’t understand. She hit herself on the door frame as she entered her room. She barked her shin on a table edge and howled.
Finally with relief she collapsed to the floor and stared up at the ceiling. Her arms spread, trying to force space, create a personal horizon. She wanted her mind to drift, but it was boxed and couldn’t move. The floor was hard, her bones were soft. She’d lost the sky and she missed her tree.