Knowing

The night rolled in with the mist that advanced from the fields. Smothering the stars and spraying the street lamps’ light through the night. The sun disappeared quietly without burning the sky for the moment. A match in the sky put out by the damp night. A cold feeling was covering the town carried in by the wind. It was the perfect setting for anything odd or unusual to occur.
However Ralph slept through the night, without anything disturbing the quiet of his sleep. The only noise to be heard were the deep snores that rattled around the room with every exhale. Nothing of interest occurred at all that night, except Mrs Claught won £50 at bingo.
Tomorrow, Ralph was walking home in the long rays the sun threw over the world, as it turned away from its light and attention. No mist had descended or risen, and it was warm for the time of year. There was movement in the corner of his eye. A man with long white hair was looking straight at him. A cold fever broke out across every one of his nerves.
Does the rabbit know it’s going to die when it makes eye contact with the fox? It sees the light hit the fox’s eye at such an angle that is knows it cannot escape, but yet biology and evolution still force it to run. Life clings to itself with an unmeasurable desperation. Death just watches the hopeless struggle of self-preservation. Every creature knows death even if it cannot understand the magnitude of nothingness for eternity. However as apes that learnt to walk, do humans see death the same as the rest of creation? Does a man look upon a car and see a chariot with two marching figures and know his time has come? The recognition of an event foretold send an icy wave down the spine, to be followed by an infinite feeling of emptiness. The soul becoming clammy to the idea and the touch of a skeletal hand.
Ralph knew when he saw this man he was going to die.
Mainly because it was Mr Gratton who’d died last year.
Even in his cynical mind, he was able to take Mr Gratton as a death omen. He started running. Panic spurring his legs like pistons to the feet. He kept looking back to see the old man walking closer. Without the characteristic slouch and slow shuffle of when the man was alive. He seemed taller with his head held high and straightened spine, walking like a king of the dead. Mr Gratton’s mouth kept moving with silence. His tight lips moving in the gloam of his own life. The same voice that tells the rabbit to run gave Ralph the same command.
He tripped over the pavement as it buckled, rose and dived thanks to the poor quality of the repaving. Mr Gratton was just behind him. He rolled over to face the dead man that looked haggard by the light that shone through his frail form.
“Ralph.”

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The lying drunk

The warm air carried the electrical smell of the night. It was dark enough so that you could not see the world around you but just enough. The stars flickered like distant candles, a shrine to lost years and future ones. The warmth of the day had subsided so that it no longer coated your skin with salt via a heavy caress. Instead the taste of future rain lingered. It may not rain tomorrow or the day after that, but as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow it would rain soon. The world is like a frog that constantly has to have moist skin otherwise it cannot breathe.
Dylan sensed all the world gave to him in the late dusk. He drank in it but his mind was far away. The alcohol that filled his veins seperated him from the world around him, acting as a buffer between reality and nerves too sharp to bear it. He felt warm, not enough to roast in his own flesh, but warm. It could be mistaken for happiness. Content, joy, or some other emotion he was missing. He didn’t care he was inbetween the world that held his body and the small piece of the stars his mind showed him. He was lying on his back in the grass. The ground was cool and all the chemicals and ills of his body seemed to seep downwards into the soil and what treasures lay beneath that.
He felt like an old scholar who looked upon the stars long before the world became anywhere near what it was today. Instead Dylan was far too drunk and lying down on the grassy verge, his foot on the pavement. Any thoughts that Dylan thought possessed philosophical depth either did not or occurred so slow that you might mistake that thoughts were carried by snails rather than nerves. He was in a nice enough area that lying here wouldn’t result in bad events unless he choked on his own vomit.
Dylan was so out of the world around him that he didn’t notice when two less drunk guys stumbled towards him. Giggling at the sight of the man passed out before him. One stage whispered to the other to keep quiet. They grabbed Dylan’s jacket that was lying a metre away from him and not on. No one would ever know why he wasn’t wearing it. They draped the jacket over him like a crude blanket. They muttered jokes about whether they should sing him a nursery rhyme or not. They wandered away from Dylan continuing their own way home.
Dylan lay there under his jacket blanket, practically dead to the world. He slept and snoozed through the night.
The cold burning sun began to rise and the world was polluted with light. The brightness dragged Dylan from his slumber now that he was not protected by his alcohol buffer.
The light burned him and movement made the inside of his head feel as though someone had taken a jack hammer to it. Groans and grunts escaped Dylan’s dry lips and his tried to remember where he was and how he got there. Thinking was like sending small electric shocks through mud. He couldn’t move and the sun was getting closer.
Memories of drunken haze fluttered through his mind. Drinks, empty glasses, singing, and someone crying. Someone crying, screaming and shouting. Dylan didn’t know why they were. Soon the shouts hurt his mind more than the sun did.

Letters and Sun

He was looking out the kitchen window. The dirty glass separating him from the garden. Outside it was sunny, the warm rays spread themselves across the glass. Light and warmth from outside seeped in. A small smile pulled at the left side of his lip. It was early spring, the perfect time to plant out the seeds he’d spent the winter growing on the window still.

He heard the letter box swing open and be stuffed with something, probably bills. There’s always bills. He turned and walked forward. Waddling like the old man he was. His hips aching and his knees battered by age. He constantly asked himself, when did he let himself become an old man? He wasn’t there yet, but his body was slipping ahead of him.

He bent down to pick up the letters that had scattered on the mat. Muttering to himself as he did. His rough fingers traced their way across the letters. It’s always bills. Until he looked at the last letter. It had a hand written address. It was addressed to him. He looked at the scrawl trying to see if he recognised it. The curled letters brought nothing to the front of his mind. He ripped open the letter, curiosity locking it’s jaw around his mind.

As he read the letter, his insides were slowly hollowed out like his guts were hacked with broad sweeping steps. The other letters and the torn envelope fluttered to the grown like a dying butterfly. His old hands shaking with small tremors.

I’m taking your lack of reply as a hint and this shall be my last letter.

He hadn’t seen any other letters. He didn’t know the full image, the letter only providing snippets of the story. It told him enough.

Footsteps ran down the stairs heavily. The slowed as they reached the bottom and approached him.

“What’s wrong?” She asked concerned. He turned to look at her. His eyes clouded with confusion and tight tears. Her eyes fluttered down to the letter. Her eyes flew wide with panic, followed by a wave of shame. She turned and walked towards the kitchen, flying like a bird from a cat. He looked at her for a second before following. The bills left littered on the floor.

“Do you know about this?” He asked putting the letter on the table in front of her. She turned to face the window as though the letter offended her. Her silence spoke loud.

“Is it true?” He asked.

“I don’t know everything-”

“What do you know?” He cut her off. She didn’t look at him. Instead her eyes jumped around the room, never looking at anything for more than a second.

Outside a blackbird jumped around the borders, pecking at weeds. It’s beady eyes scanning for food. It pecked at the bright green, spring growth. It could barely hear the rising voices inside the house.

“You knew about all of it?!” He spat in anger and shock. Her eyes darted away.

“I -”

“You knew!” He stated the confirmation. His tone left no argument.

“Why would you keep this from me?” His voice broke as the anger couldn’t carry it to the end of the sentence and sadness and hollowness took over.

“Why?”

“We thought it would be better for -”

“Don’t fucking lie!” He said his hand slamming into the wooden table. It shook on it’s old legs a little. The letter jumped away from his hand with the movement.

“You just wanted to fucking lie to me.” He said.

“I wanted to keep you -”

“Bloody lies!” He shouted. He wanted to hear the reasons, the cover-ups, the lies. He also couldn’t stand a single word she said. Every sound from her lips hurt and bruised deeper.

A thick silence settled and smothered them. A fog that swirled in and out of their lungs. Choking her with soot from the guilt fire that blazed in her heart. Drying his throat like a desert wind. Neither spoke. He let his head drop forward. His accusing gaze falling with it too. He was too old and tired to maintain it, but it was still there. They both knew it.

He left the room, marching out with curses muttered under his breath. He strolled into the garden. The grass gently stroking his shoes. The garden around him bathing in the sun, drinking in the light like honey. He sat down on the old garden chair. It sunk and sagged under his weight.

He looked around the garden. Looking at what he had built and nurtured into reality. Potential appearing and making more potential. What is potential other than something lost. Something he always lost. The seeds wouldn’t survive in the ground, the plants would die, the flowers would stop blooming. As though his eyes gave them damnation as he looked at them.

The grass was very green, the sky was extremely blue. And it disgusted him, because he knew the truth.

Mrs Corville

Mrs Corville lived at number 15 Denworth Street. She’d lived there for 15 years. It was the house she and her husband Michael had brought for their retirement. Leaving the big family house where they’d raised their four daughters behind for something smaller. She was now alone, having out lived her husband.

There was a primary school further up the road. Every day the children would come bumbling out and giggling as the raced around on the energy of youth. The noise was fine, the teachers were fine, the children were fine. It was the parents.

She didn’t know if all parents with small children forget how to park and basic road safety, but enough of them did. They double parked, went too fast, went when they didn’t have right of way. It was just dangerous.

They parked across her drive, whilst double parking. It was annoying, and dangerous, so she complained.

For years she complained, hoping to have some white lines or something to stop the reckless of the parents. Over the years their parking had gotten worse so she had complained more.

No white lines appeared.

Everyone on the road knew of her complaints and they agreed with her.

Still no white lines.

Mrs Corville had had a long life and that had caught up to her. She’d passed youth, and tragic death. She’d reached a die-able age, one where people have the comfort of a long and happy life to get through the mourning. All death is tragic, but some is fair and some are cruel. Old age is one of the nicer ways to die. Her heart was weak, which was ironic because her metaphorical heart was so strong.

Have the operation with a 20% survival rate or die? It’s not much of a choice. So she agreed to the operation. Whilst under she suffered a stroke, so they stopped the procedure. Mrs Corville didn’t have the 20% chance anymore. It’s funny how blunt death is.

Each daughter spent a day by her hospital bed saying their unprepared goodbyes. Full of the strong love of her weak heart. She passed away at the end of the week. It was a Friday, just after the children had been let out of school.

The house now stands empty, it will sell by the end of the month. Outside, just past the kerb on the old concrete road, they painted white lines on the road.

She’s not dead and gone yet.

Mr B

Mr B had the room before me.
The flowery ill-fitting curtains would dance on the same breeze when the window was cracked open in it’s old wooden frame. The paint is long past peeling. It’s cracked and chucks have fallen off, revealing the bare battered knotted wood.
Mr B would have seen the state of it. I wonder if he ever thought about it, and muttered about the state of the frame whilst ignoring the state of his life.
Like I do now.
The bed creaks and is lumpy with the masses of the dead dreams of the owners before. It’s more comfortable than the chair that acts as a wardrobe, covered in a few draped over it. There’s no where else in this rented box. There’s a jacket, a coat and a spare shirt.
I have two books under the bed. They’re battered and old and second hand. The dog ears more torn and ruff than the dog across the road that has never know warmth.
That’s all I have as I sit in this box. I’d have a bottle if I had the money.
But I just sit in silence. Thinking.
It’s painful and lonely, so busy as usual.
Mr B used to work in the garden. Kept himself busy, or so I’m told.
Mr B used to like gravy. There’s nothing wrong with gravy, it’s just the rest of the bland food.
She keeps telling me about Mr B, how he spent his days, or how he didn’t. I know more about the pieces of Mr B’s life than my own. I curse Mr B. His repetitive ways, how he used to lie here for hours doing nothing, just thinking. Whatever he did in the garden has been overthrown by the hissock grass. His life is just the facts I’ve been told. The rest of it is gone.
I lie here thinking, I resent Mr B.