The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | A Snippet of a Life
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A Snippet of a Life

Photo credit: Kristopher Roller

Fast breathing,

Pounding ears,

Broken iris.

We became

Leaves on summers end.

The rising sound of drums,

Earth shattering footsteps.

A head full of hair

Flushed skin on show

Fingers curled in fists

And a mighty long blow.

Crawling on all fours,

Sitting safely across the room,

To the only place she really knew

Like mommy had done so many times before

She crept under the table

Before being dragged out by her hair

“Daddy please that hurts”, she cried

As steel came clanging

In the form of a shoe

The screams that followed

Echoed far beyond the next room


My 9-year-old screams ring through my ears and in a panic, I blurt it out.

Then slowly, the realisation of what I’ve just admitted washes over me, like dark rumbling clouds over summer skies.”What do you mean?” he asks, concern laced heavily in his voice. “What do you mean you want to leave this place? Does that mean me too?”. I sit beside the only happiness I’d known since Mama left and lay my head on his shoulders, afraid to see the disappointment which I’m sure will follow. “It means leaving behind the sadness, loss of hope and the house I could never call a home”.

His breathing remains steady but his entire body tenses beside me and I know he’s trying to process what I’ve just admitted.

My mind goes into overdrive, the fear of chasing him away overcoming me. And then I stop. I allow myself to sit in the echoes of the truth. I know he doesn’t want to understand it, but I know he does. Unlike myself, he grew up in a house which was something of a social club, with 3 other siblings, parents who were madly in love and a home which heard more laughter in a day than I could hope for in a year. The same sound of laughter which makes my heart want to burst with happiness. The trigger of my courage. Courage to finally leave the misery which lives across the hallway, casting a shadow, an omen on the god forsaken house, which I could never come to call home.

He wraps one arm tightly around my shoulders and firmly grips my hands with the other. “I’ll always be home”, he whispers, barely audibly. I sit silently allowing his words to linger around us, digesting what he’s just said.

We sit on the ledge of a wall on a random street a little longer, before he slides off the wall, dusts the dirt off his hands and picks up my rucksack. “If you have to go at all, I’ll be the one to see you go”, he remarks, before edging closer to me, kissing me on my forehead, lingering, imprinting his love for me. I smile, because words would only result in a cascade of tears and a harder goodbye.

An hour later, I’m sitting in a half empty coach bus, my thoughts floating back to a life which I now refused to claim as my own, as I travel across the State.

I look out the frosty panel windows, staring at the starry night, looking beyond the seven-sister’s constellation, that loiter on the ceiling of the sky and I dream of someplace new. Where the bursts of dying stars, leaping across the sky can fill the black holes which reside in my life. Where the moon goes down, and the sun comes up and the warmth of its energy will bring light to a life which previously existed in darkness. And for the first time in 21 years, I can breathe.

Samiah Hannan

Samiah is a third-year English student and unlike most writers, she wasn't always inspired to write, neither did she recognise her ability to. She is inspired by fashion and art, which lead her to start her own fashion blog. The creative writing aspect of her course encouraged this step, as it gave her the confidence to write on a platform, complimenting the existing creative content which she produces for her fashion blog on Instagram. Living in the heart of London, she is constantly surrounded by creative minds and an endless array of inspiration. This creative writing chapter in her life is a new one, which she hopes she can flourish in, in the future.