Hot blend of black and a spot of white. A stroke to the tongue, a hump to the throat, a pause to time.
A crack zigzags ceiling-to-floor. An insulting cut to the book-page-white wall.
Warmth, unfit to iron out a frown.
Side-eyeing the crack, Juliet calls out, Howard?, immediately wondering why the name tastes like a fishbone in her mouth.
Juliet welcomes the spicy flood.
My goodness, Juliet, you scared my socks off, a dirty pair of jeans enters. What is it now?
Juliet disregards the sting of that word at the end, having a more important matter at hand.
She points to the wall. That needs to be dealt with.
What, the wall? Fancy dining with the Browns now, watching them picking shreds of broccoli from their fake teeth? Heh, heh, heh, he says, belly-bouncing out the door, fingers twirling a screw of something that always needs repairing.
No, the crack, she says, raising her voice. But he continues being deaf to things that matter.
Half a sip
The tea is turning cold and bitter.
An unruly eyelash burning in her eye, that crack.
When did he stop being funny, Juliet wonders again. She is unable to locate the exact file in the otherwise powerful database of her memory. What she finds there are only hiccups, chuckles, at best. Was he ever funny at all?
Juliet smoothens the tablecloth matching the wall, but it’s already so smooth it’s one with the surface.
After four and a half rings, comes a statement: Hi Mum. Period. No exclamation mark like when she phoned home from summer camp in 2001. Period.
Juliet’s been calling too often, she knows. Like, every-day-often. But can you blame her? Time tricked her. Yesterday, Sophie was singing Under The Sea hopping in the middle of the backseat en route to Grannie. Yesterday, there was no crack.
Darling, I had to call.
There’s a big crack on the kitchen wall facing east and your father refuses to sort it out.
A sigh, a sweet outbreath to Juliet’s ear. Is this one of your mind games?
Like, when you say something to cover up what you really want?
What? Is that… No, I don’t do that. No. Listen, this is serious. A crack appeared on the wall this morning. It might be dangerous. Would you speak to your father for me, please?
That crack’s been there for as long as I can remember.
Growing up in a small flat near Budapest, Hungary, Noémi now is a nomad in a small world, currently pinned to Milan, Italy. She’s a fan of cats and underdogs. Her work has appeared in Reflex Fiction, FlashFlood, The Write-In, and at Writers’ HQ’s Flash Face-Off reading events. Irregular tweets: @itssonoemi. Virtual home: noemiwrites.com