Janet was not surprised – it was no stranger than a city stinking of finfolk or gamayuns over St. Mattan’s.
Since Dave’s departure, she woke each morning to the intricate and delicate carvings of calm – a sophisticated silence – a new world that in a certain light, from a certain angle appeared suspiciously nostalgic. Now she heard the gentle saw of the Pacific from across the fields, a caladrius twitching in the twisted hazel, frost settling like a basilisk around the edges of her home.
Exhausted, she remained supine a while. She hadn’t dreamt in years but now they lit her mind like bombs; each vivid and epic with a cast of thousands and every actor granted – via that peculiar time particular to dreams – the opportunity to deliver a searing and lengthy performance. Come the morning, Janet was so exhausted, she felt she hadn’t slept at all.
Of course, it was only sensible to question herself, her sanity and the efficacy of that one faculty that maintained it – her memory. Perhaps she hadn’t slept, but instead spent the night sitting rigidly in front of the TV.
She heard a crackle from downstairs and pulled the covers over her head.
The first strains of La primavera drifted up from the expensive speakers Dave had bought on a whim and mounted in every corner of the lounge.
She dragged herself up and walked to the top of the stairs.
She already sensed a change, in the air – a dampness that accompanies the gathering of blackthorn and mud, the sharpening of rondels. In her mouth, a metallic tang – a recent development – as if her teeth had been pulled and replaced with coins.
She hurried downstairs and in the kitchen found a mug steaming on the granite top. She held it, sniffed it, swilled a mouthful of tea around her mouth, then winding her arm, hurled it into the fireplace. It struck the hearth with such a crack, it sent Mr Flash, her husband’s skillfully clawed and costively affectionate Cornish Rex, hurtling toward the moon.
After grinding the mug’s remains with a steel dustpan, she returned upstairs to find clothes ironed upon the bed, a bath run, a fresh towel folded beside it. She climbed up and holding her dressing gown open, pissed in the bath and wiped herself dry.
She dressed and returned to the lounge, stood awhile before Dave’s trophy cabinet. She studied them, surprised at how brightly each shone: the silver kelpie for best Cerridwen the copper phoenix for nearest the pin. Others she suspected he’d bought himself.
She’d never lied to herself, wasn’t her style – keep ‘um, she thought, the scummy tail-ends of shitty jobs and holidays and love love love. As she turned, she noticed the fruit bowl on the coffee table had been filled with fresh, livid fruit. Without thinking, she grabbed it in both hands and emptied it into the bin.
GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, The Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.