New Short Fiction – The Seconds Are Long

The short pieces of fiction that I’m putting up will be included in a new collection of writing titled ‘In The Hours Of Darkness – Writing On Death & Dying.’


The Seconds Are Long


“Are you fucking kidding me?” My first words when I opened the door to two policemen three days ago. The seconds between my question and their answer dragged like tree roots being hauled up during a long storm. That morning, we had both said ‘love you’ without touching. My fingers were spreading herbs and butter over and inside a chicken, and my tongue was waiting to throw out the answers to the pop quiz on the radio. Your hands were carrying our child, her lunchbox and bag, raincoat and Little Mermaid umbrella. You were here and now…now I’m writing a eulogy with a biro and a notebook from Pound Land. The words keep going through the cheap, nasty paper. Our bed hasn’t been dry since that day. Our daughter has been too afraid to leave it. We wash her doll’s clothes and the sheets every morning before school. I let her measure out the fabric conditioner and the powder and press the buttons. Her hands are steadier than mine. I should get her to write this eulogy. She’d make more sense than I am. I’ve said yes to her putting sugar on her Frosties. I know you’d go ape shit, but a little voice in my head says, ‘he’ll come through the door, and cry out about how there’s more than enough sugar already…’


It’s 2am. Our daughter is curled snake tight on your pillow. I’ve managed three words in four hours. Tears burn behind my eyes. I want the smell of you on me. I take your shirts from the deep washing pile. I rub the collars on my wrists and temples. I take your copy of Staying Alice from out under the bed. I read all of the poem tagged with multicoloured post it notes. I read, but I don’t, and when I’m finished, I put the post it notes back in exactly the same place as they were before, as if you were going to come back and re-read them. I try again to write. But everything I come up now with seems entirely inappropriate. How you would make a sandwich, then spend a few minutes trying to decide which half you would eat first. How shy I was the first time we slept together. The look on your face when you climaxed. How we would sing when leaving The South for the North. I think this would be easier if I could kiss for a while. I’m fluent in the language of our kisses and it would clear my head. But we had our last kiss the night before… I’m homesick for the plateau of your chest. I don’t want to explore another one. You didn’t get to see what happened at the end of Game of Thrones. You died not knowing the fate of Tyrion Lannister. I look out the window, in case the car outside is a taxi. In case you stumble out, pushing your drunk mate back in. In case you pop a mint before coming in through the front door.