Seventeen (ii)

My sister and I blu-tacked the photos to the wall – there’s twenty-one, mind the wallpaper – and the glass inserts of existing photo frames with generic scenes of cities, of fields, of disproportionate horses.

After, our reclusive table began to bustle with buffet paraphernalia and relatives, and we moved with coats, bags, drinks, and boyfriends elsewhere to a stretch of window, and windowsill, where it was discovered that there were no ham sandwiches at all.

The clouds darkened and prompted expressions of relief from the still hungry selection of bodies – glad it stayed good for the morning, there’s nothing worse – we were introduced to a man and we shook hands with him over paper plates and trembling cheese crumbs, and he later walked away. Discussion fell limply to the growing number of people on the other side of the room by comparison to our group depleting at the peak of the cooling afternoon. We took down the photos and rolled the blu-tack into little balls for re-use.

There were paper copies of too-fragile photographs mixed with standard prints in gloss and matte – didn’t you want one of those? – yes. My sister chose first because I had already concealed an image from a previous celebration a matter of years ago. She chose the image with two figures, I chose the one with three- a stranger. They looked like people always do in old photographs, like people. The concession was mistaken for nobility and I felt detached from the hand which took the prints, pale fingers and tiny wrists. I shuffled the remaining photographs into a sort of size order for balance; there were seventeen remaining, and they made their way into the carrier bag with the guest book and remaining sausage rolls.

Waterhaul (i)

I stepped into the road, having seen the driver indicate, and saluted him in thanks as he was forced to swerve around me; my heart demonstrated that it was capable of irregularity to coerce concious thought, and as my hand continued to wave I muttered under my breath, ‘Fuck’.


The bright white of the walls of the room, sanitary, inexplicit, were offset by the darkness of the corners; unlit due to the heady realism of maintenance costs, or perhaps a desire to fester fear, uncertainty. The policeman certainly sat in his plastic chair. When he stood he would leave a sweaty outline of his crotch on the seat.

‘My mother is very proud of me.’

The words barely resonated in the polystyrene buffer of the false ceiling, they were absorbed into the fluffy inaneness of the filing cabinets and convection heater. A crusty remnant of a damp tissue ball dangled precariously above the policeman’s head, wafting vaguely in the waves. He fiddled with his pen and perspired onto his chair. He should have switched the convection heater off. He was only peripherally aware of this.

‘Although she’s dead. I killed her.’

Suddenly the room went very cold. The policeman held his pen, mid-tap. The potted plants on the windowsill quivered with the astriction.

‘I thought this knife was my finger, and her heart was a loaf of bread.’

In the swathes of cool heat and perplexity, he at last noticed that she had extended her finger. It was withdrawn in her next statement, too quickly to comprehend the rippling actions of diminutive human consciousness.

‘Everyone makes mistakes.’

Somewhere in time the ripples would intersect. Uncertainty grew from his lungs, palpitating breaths shuddering in liaison with the potted plants who were literally beside themselves with all the attention they were getting. The heat began to crawl into his flesh again, slowly, ascending the hairs on his back with each cruel second which passed. He remembered foggily that he’d left half a cup of coffee on his desk in the main office, by the window with a view of the sky which had vomited sleet for most of the week.

‘My Dad’s dead too, I thought his brain was a block of cheese.’

His desk had a pleasant coolness. The coffee powder his wife had bought for him to take to work was nice. Not great, but nice.

‘I put the cheese on the bread, you know.’

A rattling at the door convulsed words out from the pit of his stomach which he wasn’t quite prepared for.

‘But… we brought you in to… discuss… getting the pigeons off the roof,’ he struggled to pick up his pen which he didn’t remember dropping.

‘Never mind all that,’ she replied. ‘It was the worst meal I’ve ever had.’