Cutting the Cord

I discovered last year that I can move objects by the power of my mind. Sounds grand, doesn’t it, but what I wouldn’t give to be able to reach for something with my hands again.

The apple I’m reaching for rolls off the end of the table and hits the floor. Mummy shouts at me. “Lisa! Now look what you’ve done. I’ve told you before, leave everything to me.”

I close my eyes and use my remaining energy to levitate the apple. It lifts gently off the carpet and hovers before Mummy’s eyes.

Her lips are thin and bloodless. “It’s not bruised,” she admits.

I lower it into the fruit bowl.

Her eyes flick to the clock on the wall and she wags a finger at me. “No more funny business. The health visitor is coming at three.”

I blink slowly. Okay, Mummy.

She nods and goes to busy herself in the kitchen of our little one bedroom flat.

Mummy hates me.

Mummy loves me.

It’s complicated.

I’m a vegetable. Is that a politically correct expression? Tell it to someone who gives a shit. Call a cabbage by any other name and it still smells like a cabbage. Mummy has to feed me through a nose tube leading to my stomach. Check my body for bedsores and rub creams into the folds of my skin. Change my waste bags.

I’m twenty-two, but still Mummy’s baby.

She can never be free of me, but knows I’ll never leave her again.

I’m reliant on her and we accept it.

Except for the telekinesis.

I want to develop my talent. Let others see it. It’s a miracle, call in the researchers! But Mummy won’t allow it. Not because she fears it, although I suspect she does a little, but because it chips away some of my reliance on her. Sure, you heard right. She wants me to be entirely dependent.

See, Mummy blames herself for my condition. She prayed I’d drop out of university and come home to her, and after an attack of meningitis during first term, she got her wish.

And now Mummy’s whole life revolves around me being the way I am. I hear her sometimes, out on the landing, talking to our neighbours. She says things like “My Lisa, she was so young and bright before...” and “She could have been a doctor if...” She’ll start these utterances and then choke off, and they’ll hug her shoulders and ask her round for a cup of tea. Which my mummy refuses, of course, on account of her not daring to leave me alone: “Not even for five minutes, in case...” Choke.

Last night I heard her tell Mr Barnes that she must have done something wicked in a previous life.

At first I tried to laugh it off. Gee, thanks, Mummy. So now I’m a punishment, am I? But the more I thought about it the more it needled me. I can accept being a burden, really I can. I am what I am. But a punishment? I’m her daughter, for God’s sake.

The health visitor will be here soon. Miss Denham’s hands smell of Pond’s cold cream, and she gets too emotionally involved with her charges. She over compensates for this by talking in a crisp no nonsense manner. I like her.

Mummy pops her head round the door. She’s adopted a slight stoop for the occasion. She’s such a fucking martyr. I swear if I could I’d give her a slap. Her eyes inspect the surfaces for dust—she doesn’t want the place to be too clean, lest people think she’s actually coping—then she ducks back out again.

I’ve recovered my energy since the aborted attempt to reach an apple for my mummy. I’m able to slide the pillow from under my head and pull it down onto my face. The first hitched breath is terrifying, but I’m nothing if not determined. I force the pillow down with invisible fists, numbing my nose and crushing my head into the mattress. The peripheral of my visions fizzes with pale yellow sparks.

It’s a gamble. Maybe I’ll black out and my mind will release the pressure on the pillow before I’m dead. Then again it might not. Either way I’ll be out of here.

And Mummy will still be the centre of attention. She’ll appreciate that, I’m sure.


Michael Stone  Michael Stone's website has appeared in numerous organs. Most recently Dunesteef, Dred, Pseudopod, Triangulation, TQR and The Beast Within. In 2008 Baysgarth Publications published Fourtold, a collection of his novellas with a foreword by award-winning fantasist Garry Kilworth. At the time of writing, it’s reached the preliminary ballot of the Stoker Awards, a fact which pleases him greatly.