Okay, so this is for Brad, who asked for more of this recently posted fragment of a new short story. (See people, all you have to do is ask!) And just so you know, of the four or five new short stories I’ve written recently, this is one that my editor gave the biggest thumbs down to. ‘Too showy, too much about the writing, needs more work’, he said, which is akin to ‘start again’. (He’s right, by the way.) Sorry I’m giving you the ‘bottom-feeder’, but hey, it’ll be more interesting when I post a whole new and improved version of it down the track. So, here’s the next little bit (yes, morsel by morsel; gluttony is a sin after-all):
My father’s voice slides gently under my tarred blackness. It drip-feeds into my bloodstream and fills me up with flashcards from the past. My first dog flashes up at me. The beach holiday when I got my first period and dad bought me a book to congratulate me, which I thought was weird and creepy, but now I see it for what it was meant to be. The sock fights with my sister in the sanctuary of the air-conditioned family-room. My first date. My skiing trip. My mother’s first attempt. My wedding. My husband’s screams as the flames take him away from me. Enough cards now dad, I say, but no-one can hear me and I wonder if my lips have gone.
I remember pushing my face into the carpet of the hallway. There was nowhere else to go but down. Even as I shouted his name I could feel the words catching in my throat. Maybe my lips are still there, stuck to the carpet? But it’d all be gone none now. Dad would be all that remained. From an entire family and all of its material history, only my father would be left. My sister would fly home. But she wouldn’t stay. She never could cope with it all. Even with her gone, the house gone, the memories will linger like a stain in the neighbourhood, in the street, on my father’s clothes, in his skin and hair. She’ll get one whiff and she’ll leave.
The smell of me is crushing. It presses me to the bed. It replaces the air in the room and makes me want to apologise. But then the five stages of grief smack into me all at once and I want to scream at them to take their turn, but I know they don’t have time for that. Denial throws a hand up into Anger’s face, who bargains with Depression for more time, but Depression wails insistently until Acceptance quiets everyone with a spoonful of honey.