When I am 14, we skive school and go for chips, which we drown in vinegar and nosh on the swings overlooking the sea. A squally wind is blowing right in our faces but we keep eating the chips till they’re gone.
You’ll never leave here, said the man at the bar. You’re going to meet a nice Norwegian man and get married—he squinted at me. No, not married. But you’ll move in together, to a cabin in the forest.
It’s a liminal place, this promontory. Existing at the point where the sky meets the land, the bay meets the open sea and — with the outline of the tiny 12th Century chapel walls still just visible under the soft turf — the past meets the present.
Must be twenty or more out there on hands and knees digging up our once beautiful garden right down to the ochre subsoil; no stone is to be left unturned.
Lost in the landscapes were the blue gulls careening their watchful dance. The sea was the colour of loss, of father’s last words. Nothing so grand as be not afraid in the original.
I scuff through the woods waiting for hips that won’t come. Heel toe heel toe down the length of a fallen tree. Roll a rock—pill bugs, millipedes, the smell of earth.
On the road shoulder across from our church, our former church, our home, our former home, I am gathering courage to put my Rambler into drive, to step on the gas.
We’re in his old hometown, where the buildings sag on their foundations, and the metal siding of the ‘70s is rusting, sun-scorched and dusty from cornfield weed killer.
I see faces in the ice. There’s a word for it: pareidolia. Sometimes I see an arm caressing the body of the glacier, its reach expansive.
Zombie Driver don’t care where they are. They’ve got to move. Move fast. Get around you. By you. Over you. Through you. Whatever it takes.
My fingers grip and coil around slender shoots as I hoist myself up into the arboreal forest like a feral animal. Tackling the steep incline, I scramble to keep up with the older boys who sprint ahead like sound waves.
There’s a boarded up house with the word eternal painted on its side. It used to be a bridal shop: they made wedding dresses on that corner a hundred years ago.
Your face is the first to fade from memory; still your voice, a bow caressing the strings of a cello, holds me close. Your scent, evergreens dipping to the sea shore, calms me on days when I cannot locate your name.
It was nature walk day and we were excited even though it’s just the path next to the school and the chapel and even though it only goes through two fields and even though we’ve done it loads of times it was still better than singing hymns or doing ‘rithmatic or sewing…
Samantha feared, in guilty moments, that she loved the lakes more than she loved her father. Today, on their usual monthly circuit, her father hobbled slowly, clutching his stick, and she looped her arm through his.
I tell you I’ve only ever shown it to a girl who I met on a tour bus in Moscow, where I was traveling with my parents. She had bad acne, and she really liked Duran Duran.
Kate is not ‘imagining it’. There are small tufts of pale fluff on her neck, and no, it’s not ‘just a tissue in the washing machine’ as John suggests. There’s nothing drifting off his shirts, nothing clinging to Ella’s favourite black top, Josh’s Minecraft t-shirts. It’s more solid than tissue, just on her clothes. And only she can see it.
In the barren cold camp, you wear a dusty cape and top hat, wave my cane as if it were a wand and tell me your dream-stories, one after the next, your words spun and tossed like tethers into the air.
Ignis, the flaming wreckage, bubbling rubber, liquified cloth, her skin charred and blistering, acrid smoke, the tiny thunders of survival’s kicks