Water Bed

I wasn’t sure why I was there, staring at his body covered in bandages the colour of innocence, only a few human fingers sticking from the fabric and itching for a cigarette.

“He could have died,” his mother said, savouring the words and the effect they no doubt had on all of her guests.

I was still holding the casserole my mum had made, trying to peek through the plastic sheets to the part of the house where the fire had been.

My mum made a sound with the back of her throat and neither of us unbuttoned our coats.

“He could have died,” his mother said again.  “Thank God it was a water bed.”

“He could have burned the whole block down,” my mum had said the night before.  “What was he doing smoking in his poor mother’s bed?”

What was he doing in his poor mother’s bed.  I wanted to know.

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