(Your expensive medicine is on fire. Click the link. Fast.)
and snow in August
like broken diamonds
and open coffins
and another man’s cologne
like crushed snail shells
and every bruise you’ve ever had
like tights snagging on barbed wire
and all of the lives that you are too afraid to live.
On one bone
Heal dug in to auburn mud
I stand faltering
Still here in spite
Of the articles of my person
Spiking the tarmac in waste
How soon people upturn themselves
Remove lifelines on cracked palm
and with stark new minds
Who scare away crowd
Turn with long gusts
Remembering you as if
Your form were just
retreating from our outstretched
Ache for your warmth
Among still rooms left vacant by indifferent tred
Can brand away that
Sharp scar you bequeathed
That angular stuffed silhouette
Trying in vain
To remove the avalanche
Closing us apart
In terrible forgotten page
Erasing blank with lifted veil
The bride, seeing only weighing skies
Resting rain in scowling belly
We are absent folk in
Lulling pretense, as our
Voided selves lose
With all of those memories
Once defining us
i have fallen into the habit of waiting for her in the mornings.
i like to watch her struggle with the cafe’s heavy glass doors, yellow bike helmet in one hand, large purple messenger bag slung across her chest. once inside, she scans the room and moves quickly to the table by the window, the only one with free seats, where i am. she offers me a polite smile and points to the chair opposite me. i look up from my book, feign distraction, then nod before i return to reading.
she pulls out laptop, mobile phone, and novel from her bag and place them on the table. she’s halfway through the old man and the sea. last week she was reading Henry Miller’s tropic of cancer. she opens up her laptop and orders from a hovering waitress without looking at her or the menu; but her voice is soft and low so she comes across as shy not rude. she asks for two fried eggs with toast and a large cappuccino.
a couple enters the cafe and contemplates our table with its two remaining seats. i wave them over and offer to move so they can sit next to each other. the girl removes her bag from the chair nearest her and drops it on the floor. she continues working. i settle in beside her, and we, the couple and i, smile cordially at each other but say no more. i slip behind my book and the couple peruses the menu.
the couple leaves soon after they finish their breakfast of muffins and coffee. the girl is oblivious and does not look up until she needs the loo. i am a harmless looking soul– and perhaps she recognises me as a regular– because she turns to me and asks if i could keep an eye on her laptop. i smile, i say, of course. when she is in the loo, i peer at her laptop and i’m pleased to see that she is in the process of finishing the story about an old man and his granddaughter, five years old and blind from birth. it is a simple plot and written with care. i missed a few pages but i am able to follow the narrative. i pull back just as she comes out and i watch as she approaches the cashier to pay. she decides on an orange muffin. i suspect this is her lunch.
she returns to the table and i am reading my book. she clears her throat and i ignore her. i know she wants to thank me but i feel this is superfluous as i have already claimed my payment. she has packed her things and now waits for me to look up. i can feel her stare and i wonder if she is thinking to use me in her next story.
i stand up abruptly and head to the loo.
How foolish I was
to believe your pretty words.
But I needed them then
and I had flowers in my eyes.
Image and text © Ashley Lily Scarlett 2016
Emma sat cross-legged on a white leather couch staring at the flowering trees of Central Park through the floor to ceiling windows on the east side of the apartment where she was cat-sitting. She cradled in her lap an ancient Persian cup filled with hot coffee.
She watched the colors change as the sun rose, and she drank the coffee.
Around noon, Carmen knocked on the door.
“Marvelous!” said Carmen as she meandered through the apartment.
Emma returned to the couch.
It was quiet for a while, and then Carmen said, “Look!” She dumped a pile of fabric on the couch next to Emma.
“You’d better put those back the way you found them,” said Emma.
Carmen took off her clothes. “Try them on with me.”
“They won’t fit me.”
Carmen put on a black dress with hard lines and nearly invisible lacework. It fit like it had been painted on. She leaned backwards against the window, closed her eyes, and spread her arms so that her knuckles rested on the glass. It seemed like there was nothing behind her, that she would fall backwards.
Carmen tried on dress after dress, sometimes walking around the room, sometimes standing still.
The last dress was yellow and had crystal buttons crossing from the left shoulder to the right hem. “Isn’t yellow the most erotic of the colors?” Carmen asked Emma, sitting down next to her. Carmen sat straight and crossed one ankle behind the other. She put her palms on her raised knee and squeezed her shoulders together.
“Isn’t red?” asked Emma.
“Don’t be a fool,” said Carmen. “Invite Tara over. She’ll show you.”
“No way,” said Emma. “She’ll steal one.”
“She’ll steal them all,” said Carmen. “As for me, I’m taking this one.”
“Nope,” said Emma.
“I’ll wait for them to come home so they can see me in it. They’ll realize I deserve it.”
“What should we eat for lunch?” asked Emma.
“Hors d’oeuvres, canapés, Champagne.”
“I was thinking Korean.”
Carmen’s phone chimed. “Tara’s on her way.”
Sorry it has been so long, Bro, but there’s been lots of shit happening down here. I promise I will be in close contact soon.
Do you remember I said that I despised my job? My mind numbing, soul crushing position at the the data analytics firm in the City? Well, I can report that this no longer an issue. One Friday I finished my espresso and made my way with ant colleagues, through the rain, to the office. When I got there I found the the doors bolted. The company had folded, disappeared from existence, along with my job. A group of us hung around outside for a few hours, demanding answers. None came, so we conceded defeat and found a nearby bar. Oh, how we drank; hard and long.
The sun was rising above the rooftops as I forced my key into the door of my house. When I entered the home, Nicole was waiting. Shouting and screaming, telling me how I was a shit husband, and father, and son. Telling me I was a lazy fucker, who didn’t deserve loving children, or a beautiful wife, or a caring mother.
I decided not to tell her I had lost my job. It didn’t feel like the right moment.
Instead I endured and survived a weekend of silence punctuated with harsh glares. On Monday I donned my suit, kissed the kids’ foreheads as they munched on cereal, and left for the office. I hung around in coffee shops, and book stores, and then bars when they opened. A slow burning of the hours until it was time to commute home. I have a theory on elasticity of time when bored, how it stretches and hours become longer. I’ll save that for another time. And yeah, I still commuted to the City. What a dick. I could have just walked to the coffee shop around the corner from our house, then ambled back at dusk.
It was inevitable she would find out about my fake trips to work. It took about about three weeks and one phone call. She discovered my subterfuge, along with my infidelity. Did I ever mention the brunette who worked in my department has the most perfect tits you could imagine. That night confirmed me as shit husband, and father, and son. Fact-based, not emotive opinion – irrefutable when proven by a female data analyst.
My marriage has disintegrated. I am jobless. And homeless. I have moved in with Perfect Tits, not because I want to, but out of necessity. On the surface she’s my perfect woman. She hates sushi takeaway, preferring red meat and red wine, and adores a big cock in her ass. What more could the shallowest of men want? But even amazing breasts get boring after a while. Imagine eating a fillet cut of steak every night, and after a while you want a bit of basic skirt.
At first, the only other option I saw was to return home, to Mum. Well fuck that. Then I saw there is one more possibility, another way out of this mess. I will return home, in a geographical sense. Not to our old house and Mum. Under the light of the new moon, I will walk through the cemetery to the cottages. To your cellar. It makes perfect sense.
Even if I get it wrong and survive the immediate drop, nobody will discover me at the cottages. It will be slow, but I will ultimately die, hanging in the dark. Time will correct my fuck up. Weird that. It is rare that the passage of time makes things right. In my experience the movement of time concentrates the feeling of failure, boils despair down to it’s constituent components.
And as I hang naked, my skin, caressed by the darkness and the cold air, will be barely able to contain my soul.*
My body will lie undisclosed by my loved ones, maybe forever. Strike that, I have no loved ones. I have pushed everyone away. They will forget me quick enough. Will I remember any of those I leave behind? You never answered my question. How, or indeed do, memories work where you are? Where I am coming? You can tell me when I get there.
As an aside, I have found my perfect song to play myself out. You see, I told you I would be in close contact soon.
See you soon J. Missed you, Bro.
* Reproduced with kind permission. 😉
This post is the last in a collection, so you may want to work your way through in sequence if you’re not familiar with the back story: