In the utility room of my mother’s house there is a stained glass window. It’s a strange place for such a beautiful piece of glass but my mother is unsentimental for pretty things. The window was there when she moved in: the utility room came afterwards, built for practicality not prettiness.
When I was small it was where I washed my football kit, where I soaked and scrubbed my muddy boots. I turned red, purple, blue in that room, stained by the light that poured through the panes.
There were plastic tubs in the utility room, filled with liquid and lined up against the walls. I didn’t like to look inside: I knew what I would find. Except I couldn’t help but glimpse the submerged soft things that would bob, rise, break the surface.
My mother taught biology. Bulls eyes, frog torsos, the delicate lungs of tiny mammals: these were the subject of her lessons. These were the things she encouraged children to cut and categorise, the parts of once-living flesh she asked them to slash and label.
I never believed in God. But in the utility room, beneath the light of the stained glass window, I would pray for the pieces of these poor dead creatures. I would pray for redemption, I would pray for my mother to care.
Hannah Stevens is a queer writer currently based in Leicester in the UK. Stevens writes short stories and flash fiction and their influences include Daphne Du Maurier and Joyce Carol Oates. Stevens has a PhD from the University of Leicester, works part-time in the voluntary sector and lives with their house-rabbit Agatha.