We’d made them together, my mother and I. We’d been making them for years. I’d wait for her to call me down one December morning, when the rest of the house was still dancing in their dreams. The frost would line the window edges and she’d have a candle lit in the kitchen. Vanilla – her favourite. She’d see the reindeer dot my pyjama bottoms and laugh because hers were the same.
“Which bowl should we use this year, Liv?” She asked as if I would change my mind. I never did.
“The red one.”
“With the hearts?”
“With the hearts.”
I didn’t watch the flour go in, or the way the eggs whisked together until they became one. I watched her face, her tongue peeking out from the left side of her mouth, her eyebrows slithering closer together with each new ingredient.
I felt the concentration etch its way onto my face as I added the ginger. I mimicked her as I always had – she was everything I’d ever wanted to be.
I woke up to the sound of sirens, red lights bouncing off my bedroom window. My skin hardened, my throat tightened. The house shook but my body was numb.
“I’ll be fine honey, it’s nothing. It’ll all be fine soon.” She’d lied about being sick. She’d lied. Every day I watched her face grow paler, watched her movements lag. Her songs stopped echoing through the house. She didn’t stir as fast anymore.
My own house was unfamiliar, the floor ice under my feet. Tears blurred my eyes but my ears heard everything. The footsteps, the cries, the distant sound of my mother’s heartbeat slowing down with every passing second.
“Liv, look after your sister.” Dad’s voice echoed inside of me, his footsteps a memory within seconds. That was it, no explanation, no reassurance; no “it’ll be okay”. Because it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t ever be okay again.
The brownies didn’t taste the same when I made them.