In the stillness of a hot summer's afternoon, Susie and Paul are playing in their patch of garden. He is digging the biggest hole ever and she is mixing mud pies. The window and door of the kitchen stand open to the sunshine. Shouting breaks the calm, Mummy and Daddy shouting at each other in the kitchen. Susie does not take her eyes off the old saucepan, she stirs the mud. “Make it stop, make it stop. Make it stop,” she whispers.
The house falls silent. Susie looks up. Paul looks like crying. She can't leave him but she has to be sure that everything is alright. She leads him through the kitchen, down the hallway. She can hear her parents in the front room, still angry with each other. “Come on, Paul,” she says. “We'll play upstairs now.”
On the stairs she can see them through the open door. Daddy is waving his fist. She takes Paul up to her room. Paul sucks his thumb. She sits and rocks on the bed crushing her teddy bear to her chest. “Make it stop, make it stop. Make it stop,” she whispers.
Summer ends and then comes her seventh birthday. She is given a baby doll with a soft body and blonde hair. It has a cradle too. She names it Louise. The next day, Mummy fetches her and Paul from school. “We are going to live in a new house,” she tells them, “you'll like it there.”
It's not as good as our old house, thinks Susie but she says, “Where's Daddy?”
“Daddy doesn't live here with us,” Mummy says, “Now come and see your new room.”
It has stopped, but she has lost her Daddy. “That isn't what I meant,” she whispers.
Sally Roberts started writing fiction shortly after starting school. Forty-five years later, she has got to the point where she is happy to share her efforts with others. Sally lives in England, near the Welsh border, where she works in local government.