When You’re Gone I Practice for When You’re Dead by Rosaleen Lynch
When you’re gone, I practice for when you’re dead. You might be gone to the store, or taking out the trash or having a bath and I’ll pretend not to hear the car or back door or water draining the tank. I might be in the backyard and you’re inside, in the kitchen overlooking the garden and I’ll lie in the long grass, long because you are dead and haven’t cut it.
I’ll lie in the long grass, counting bumblebees, to test how long it’ll be before I hear your voice, how long it takes for you to miss me. And when I hear you, I’ll imagine it’s from beyond the grave, telling the bees you miss me, not that the spaghetti’s long past al dente, and bordering on mash, and I’ll lie in the long grass missing you and wishing I’d asked you to show me how the lawnmower works or how the stove-timer works or how living in this house with me works.
Lying in the long grass I won’t see you in the window’s reflection of the backyard, as you wonder what I’m doing and if you should start the spaghetti again or if you can change the radio station or the fan’s rotation from the angle set for me. Lying in the long grass, I’ll watch tips of green blades touch tree-tops and breathe with the wind and be present instead of time-travelling to when you mow the lawn, to when you say we should let grass grow wild for the bees as it was in Delphi, without pesticides, predators, or urban planning and I’ll try not to envy the bees their priority in your hive mind, the oracle of our time, while I lie in the long grass and practice for when you’re dead.
Rosaleen Lynch is an Irish youth and community worker and writer in the East End of London with words in various journals and shortlisted by various prizes, is a winner of the HISSAC and the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize, has work selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 2023 and has a collection/workbook 52 Stories: A Toolkit for Readers and Writers, coming out in 2023 with Adhoc Fiction and can be found on 52Quotes.blogspot.com.