Close Scrapes With Death

When life scrapes against death
leaving you in a constant
cycle of recuperation and illness,
and those stalactite tears
hanging from your eyes
become hardened by circumstance,
and the fight against darkness
drains your soul,
picking your bones clean,
leaving you incapable
of keeping someone alive
by sheer willpower alone,
you will realise
there is no end in sight,
no use in reaching for hope,
and that’s the black-and-white of it.

 

First published on http://visualverse.org 2017

So Damn Hot

It was so damn hot.

My t-shirt stuck to my skin.

I remember my brother in his shorts, plasters across both knees.

Dad had a fan in his office so we snuck inside to cool ourselves while he worked. He soon shooed us off when two men arrived.

We raced each other to the auditorium. Light slipped through the blinds casting patterns across the rows. Mucking about, we jumped from seat to seat, until, exhausted, we flopped down letting the red velvet absorb our sweat.

That’s when we heard it.

A crack so loud it made us start. My brother turned to me, questions etched all over his face. I couldn’t answer. My stomach was in my mouth. I’d heard the sound before.

“Let’s go and play on the stage” I whispered.

I told him we were going to play hide-and-seek; told him to get behind the curtain. He looked confused when I didn’t leave him but didn’t say anything. We hid for ages — me too scared to go and investigate.

“Well, what have we got here?” a man said.

I froze. My brother didn’t. He poked his head outside the curtain.

I willed him to run, but he just stood there looking up in the direction of the voice. All I could see was a pair of men’s shoes splattered with red. I didn’t want to contemplate what it might be. I wanted to grab my little brother and get the hell out of there.

“What we gonna do with him, Jed?”

A shot reverberated around the room.

My brother crumpled to the floor.

“I told you, no names,” I heard as I edged away.

The only time I slowed was when I passed Dad’s sprawled body. His face was gone, his white shirt turned red.

I kept on running. I’m still running now.

 

Published on http://trainlitmag.weebly.com and as part of the FlashFlood on National Flash-Fiction Day 2017

Listen

Listen, the river is burbling. It is lapping the bank. Back and forth. Back and forth; tidal. A moving ribbon threading through landscape towards the estuary. Carrying sunlight kisses dispersed across its surface. Across the patchwork of light and shade thrown as you please over the rippling water. Water racing clouds urged on by the breeze. The same breeze brushing your face, whispering in your ear, tangling up your hair, transporting your thoughts to somewhere.

 

Published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com June 2017

Nocturnal Creatures

I was always a nocturnal creature. I would sneak out of my bedroom late at night to explore. I especially loved the moonlight. The way it shone across the trees, casting odd shapes and shadows, replacing all colour with blacks and greys. I remember the first time I saw an owl, wings outstretched, swooping silently on its prey, claws grabbing hold. I watched in awe as it disappeared from sight. The second time I followed.

 

Published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com May 2017

Memories

Do you remember our hotel? How you always insisted on room service? How we waited until dusk before strolling hand in hand along the deserted beach? How you wore that silly hat?
Well, I remember rushing to your side when you collapsed, sitting by your hospital bed — meeting your wife.

 

Published on https://fiftywordstories.com  Nov. 2015

 

 

Twenty Minutes

I have a twenty minute window. Snapping on a pair of gloves I watch the security guard unlock the gate and head down the street for a fag. With military precision I’m inside the yard systematically rummaging through sticky, unwanted objects until my phone vibrates and I have to withdraw. By the time he rounds the corner I’m back across the street with only seconds to spare, enough food in my bags for the week.

 

 

First published on http://www.paragraphplanet.com April 2017

Life Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

So far, this year’s been extremely difficult. My husband’s had Septicaemia, an e.coli infection, two eye operations and a torn retina — and it’s only the beginning of May. It all started to get on top of me. I could feel myself spiralling into depression. I’ve suffered from it on and off for years and know the signs. However, over time I’ve devised my own coping mechanisms, one of which is walking.

So last Sundays that’s what I did — three miles there, three miles back. While walking, I separated the fucked-up thoughts and problems from the ones I can actually do something about. The main worry was my husband would lose his sight in one eye. We still don’t know for sure, only time will tell.

Anyway, I found myself in an empty art gallery that was between exhibitions. Huh, I thought, someone’s taking the piss. I’m worrying about my husband’s sight and I end up somewhere where there’s nothing to see! I walked to the next gallery, only to discover it was an exhibition about the retina.

Eyes were everywhere. A resin piece containing images of eyes dangled from the ceiling inviting the viewer to touch and an image of the artist’s own retina was projected onto a wall. It made me realise how intricate the organ is. There was also a large collage made up of eyes. The exhibition led me to consider how people get on with their lives even after losing their sight. It felt as if someone was trying to tell me something.

I left the gallery and popped into Oxfam. After choosing a couple of books, I took them to the till. The young woman serving was partially sighted and had to hold the books up close to her face to read the prices. I realised then, no matter what happens, you just have to play the cards you’re dealt.

A week later my husband bumped into an old work colleague. He told him about his eye troubles and it transpired this friend was married to the artist whose work I’d seen. My husband was offered the chance to go along to have his eye photographed and added to the display.

How’s that for a coincidence?