ALZHEIMER’S AND WANKING
“I can’t stand Literary Fiction, it’s all Alzheimer’s and wanking.”
She’s draining her second bottle, Red, the White long gone; and I realise, I want to put this woman inside a tree and set fire to her.
Inside the tree I saw in Cyprus, struck by lightning, its inside glowing Notre-Dame.
All the leaves gone, birds skedaddled, eggs popping in their nests.
She’d look good in that tree.
Or the tree I climbed when I was six and fell from, fracturing my foot in three places. That was a malevolent bastard of a tree.
She’d look resplendent inside that tree.
Mice would nest in her skull. Badgers would pluck out her eyeballs.
I like trees.
I hate this woman.
The world is that simple.
The world is simple twenty drinks into the night, everything dehydrated into alcohol poisoning.
With sleep, carbs, painkillers, water, I will return to life, tomorrow.
Focus, on the trees.
The most important tree, the best tree – if I had to marry a tree – would be a Giant Sequoya.
But, you can’t take a tree for a walk.
You can’t hobble home from a bar, giggling, with a tree.
A tree won’t ever wank, and certainly not in Ikea. A tree won’t get Alzheimer’s, forget you write books, forget your name, put sausages in the dishwasher and wake up crying, saying “The speed of the house is broken.”
The police won’t ever bring a tree home to you.
You won’t kiss the hot neck of a tree and say you’ve been brave, very brave.
In 17th-century England, King Charles II drank “King’s Drops” made of powdered human skull and alcohol – I want to be buried beneath a tree, give it my restorative nutrients – Give something back – Ideally I’ll be chopped up and distributed mathematically in a forest – I bequeath my right lung to a silver birch – there has to be value even in my biological matter – I mean – I was made before 1945 – you can tell if a wine was made before 1945 by testing for cesium 137 – nuclear explosion waste is present in all wines made in the nuclear age – I could be a nutritious, meagre apology for the fuckwittage of humanity, “Sorry, World. Have my spleen.”
I explain, to my wife.
“Drunk, drunk, drunk.”
We walk home through black fields full of frogs.
Pop, pop, pop.
We sway, veer into hawthorn-hedge-ditch.
“Nothing’s broken,” she shouts.
She once told me before you go anywhere far away, you have to sit down and say “We’re not going anywhere,” to trick the Devil.
Elisabeth Ingram Wallace is an award-winning short story and flash fiction writer. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Flash Frontier, and selected for anthologies, including Best Microfiction 2019. Her short stories have won the Mogford Prize 2019, Writing the Future 2017, and a Dewar Arts Award. She is the Senior Editor for Flash Fiction at TSS Publishing, and a Senior Editor for ‘Best British and Irish Flash Fiction’.
Fiction & Features Editor – Steven John