Ampersand! She loved the sound of words, and her favourite sound was ampersand. She often lived in the coastal town Hawthorn where she would look out across the harbour waiting for him to return. She had waited for months at a time. Her eyes weathered by an emotional fog that drifted from echoing reminiscences that crashed against her mind, washing up a frenzied froth of thought and turmoil that left the flotsam of contrived moments amongst the jetsam of memories, before drifting back into the callous serenity of the doldrums.
The words she had exchanged with him ebbed through her, soaking her with sorrow.
“DNA triplets switching genes on and off.”
“Who switches the genes on and off?”
“Oh God,” he said, raising his arms like a preacher in surrender.
He bore the physique of a renaissance sculpture, ripping off his jumper in the pitch blackness, creating static sparks, like lightning in a thunder cloud. While she was very much aware of the body she was in, saddling herself with her clothes and adorning her smile as if it were a garment. She was more beautiful than he cared to admit. That half-cocked smile of hers had him leaning towards her. But all too often after the event, like a cat, he’d act like he wasn’t interested once he’d gotten what he’d craved. But she loved him no matter what. And she waited for him no matter when.
Why do the dark nights close in fast while the light nights open out so slow, she mused whilst looking out across lighted landscapes of C D Frederick. Though now it was mid-September and the Constables had become Turners.
He could be gone for months at a time. But months had become years. He wasn’t coming back. Which is why she couldn’t let him go.
She splashed her head into the clockface then lay there with a half-hearted grin upon her strangled countenance She was a piece of driftwood, the moniker of the boat. Her body contorting and gnarling before settling into serenity, insouciant in her suffering. She had become a song, singing on the ripples of timelessness.
“It’s the Sods law of things, when the natural outstands the logic,” he had said, those words whispering through the void.
“I could never understand logic. It tends to make common sense superfluous,” she had replied.”
Somewhere, travelling light waves through the infinite ocean of space, these conversations still echoed, while he was somewhere on the expanse, searching for himself in the belly of the whale.
What is real exactly? She thought staring at the ceiling through poached eyes. The sound siphoned through her lungs until she was a siren beckoning for his lamp through the oblivion, where she drifted, like Ophelia, in her blackened consciousness. Her hair all bladder wracked, her skin crawling with crustaceans, the cold washing its warmth through her as moonlight drizzled and spat, drizzled and spat, in spates of insomniac duration.
The last night she saw him he’d been kept up all night with tinnitus and toothache. He said his tooth was trying to eat into him, burrowing into his cheek like a lobster’s claw that wouldn’t let go. He wanted to tear it out with a fork.
“What is salvation when there’s nothing to salvage,” he had told her as he was about to leave.
She could still feel the tooth in her hand itching inside her as black and white mists engulfed the room inside out, black tar swabbing the walls as the foghorn hounded intermittently. The view from the window a photograph negative. Her veins stretched taut like violin strings scything. Stairs-there were stairs-spiralling upwards. A light spinning, was spinning, slowly, then speeded, slowly, then speeded, like a heartbeat, beating, beating, beaten, pulsing then pulling, pulsing, pulling. She was dermatologically an eggshell beginning to crack like fissures in an old painting hanging upon the wall. The walls crumpling like paper. Seagulls perched upon the window sill.
“Life’s a beach and we’re all at sea,” they squawked, emulating his last words that came ashore before she was swept away by the depths of drowning.
Anthony Ward tries his best not to write but he just can’t help himself. He writes in order to rid himself and lay his thoughts to rest. He has recently been published in Streetcake, Bluepepper Poetry, Shot Glass Journal and Mad Swirl after a hiatus in writing.
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