Forgetting

I

There it is, on the porch, tucked beneath the wood storage. Rickety stool, one leg shorter than the rest, teetering on the edge. Tiptoes. Just out of reach but – there – untangled the string of the wind chime: its dull scrape of driftwood and hollow chimes: how the sea would sound if it could speak. It is too windy for them here, a crude cacophony interrupting my sleep. I will move them somewhere sheltered. Nails, I need. Some logs for the fire, too. Nights are closing in now, the chill seeping under the doors. Cold days. Colder nights. I will have to take the bus into town, the three-o clock one, yes. A busy day. Things to do.

The bus is crowded. A female driver. She waves away my pass, ‘I know who you are, Mrs Jones,’ knows my name – I’m getting old – too old. A family on the seat in front are eating sandwiches: smells of tuna and cucumber and cheese flood the space as they’re passed around. A toddler turns and looks at me, owl-eyed. We’re slowing down, the bus swaying. This is my stop. Is it? Yes: the square with the hanging baskets and the tulips, all reds and oranges, outside the supermarket. Bright lights inside, disorientating, too much choice. All in one shop. It was never like this, the greengrocer used to let you try the strawberries before you bought them. Where am I, which aisle? Nails. I need nails. And logs, hard to make out my scrawl on this paper. The signs swim above the aisles: bread, kitchen, hardware – there. Rows and rows of nails, I grab a small pack, still too many, they will go to waste. I only need a handful. A hand by my shoulder, a young man in red. Spotty face. Continue reading “Forgetting”

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Argus

Light.

A harsh, fluorescent bulb. Its low hum, a flicker every one, two, three, four seconds.

White walls. Sterile.

Someone is in the room.

A young man, wearing a lab coat too long at the sleeves. He is facing a dark pane of glass in the wall, gesticulating widely as he speaks. He looks nervous. The tail of his coat is lifted periodically by a breeze from the window, slightly cracked so that a slither of light paints a line across the room down to-

Hands.

A fist, two. Clenched and unclenched as the thought appears, blue light like veins passing beneath the skin. I want it closer and it raises. I want. I. My hand.

I…am. Continue reading “Argus”

Be Right Back

Introduction

Anyway it’s not how that bothers me, it’s why. The how almost doesn’t matter. Everyone has a story of how or where or when. It happens every day, it happens to everyone. But that’s all people want to ask: how. How did it happen? How are you? How? I feel like I’ve rehearsed the answer now, perfected it. Just the right amount of emotion so they don’t get uncomfortable. Like the realness of it scares them more than the answer. They get more uncomfortable when I ask them why instead. Nobody answers; nobody tries save for those reflexive statements hollowed out from overuse. Mostly they touch my shoulder, tilt their heads at me; change the subject. I keep asking until I feel like a toddler. Why why why why? Why is grass green? Why doesn’t the sun fall out the sky? Why-
Why her? Continue reading “Be Right Back”

Coffee

This moment between turning the sign from closed to open is the quietest. Past the glass of the door the world seems to move slower, and I have five minutes of stillness and sips of coffee before the café opens. Business suits with clipped orders for espressos, the slow drawl of caramel macchiatos with extra cream to fuel those half-written novels and the tired requests for coffee leave my complimentary muffin forgotten. The morning rush is a mess of coffee spills and pastry flakes and when the whirring of the blenders starts to slow I can stop to breathe. To watch. Continue reading “Coffee”

Cemetery Thief

His plan was flawless. Unconventional, maybe, but he was far from worries of morality when he lived in the backseat of a car. Getting the sign was his biggest setback. In the end he called in a favour from a talented friend with a stencil and an ask-no-questions attitude. It cost him his car radio, but the local news section was a small price to pay. He’d rather have the paint and scrap metal.

Beware: pickpockets. The sign was official looking enough to prompt caution from most visitors. If people wondered why they were being warned of theft in a place populated by skeletons, they didn’t say anything. Pockets were checked and bags secured, and it told him exactly where to strike.

Continue reading “Cemetery Thief”