Nocturne by Junyi Chew

Night pressed herself against the river, which offered in return a reflection of the pumpkin lanterns strung between the trees, their lights bobbing and disappearing in rhythm with the water’s will.

Kathy knelt down to skim the water with her fingers, disturbing the moon within its surface. Benjy, her beagle, trotted on, sniffing a trail along the river bank. It was at this time of year, straddling October and November, that the veils between the worlds thinned, so they said.

On such a night she would sometimes hear him whisper through the trees, “Kathy, pet…”Or a snatch of his fiddle music would rise on the wind and disappear. She would plunge her hands into the icy water until she could no longer feel them. One time she slid her hand in and felt someone clutch it with their own. She had leapt back, longing yet afraid. In dreams she found herself cocooned in cobwebs, their threads sticking to her eyelids.

“Kathy.” Two hands landed on her hips, and their warmth pressed through her sweater. His voice was so unlike Sean’s, thudding in concert with her thoughts, not laced with unpredictability.

She raised her eyes from the water to take in the lanterns along the riverside, and the ‘cobwebs’ the children had spun from balls of wool. No two webs were the same; the threads were always reinventing the shapes they wore.

She turned to meet his eyes, which were hemmed in by crows’ feet, pumpkin lights dancing in his irises. Somewhere inside her, a veil was dropping.

Biography: Junyi Chew currently resides on the outer edge of Leeds, having previously lived in Mexico, Brazil and Spain, and grown up in Kent in a Malaysian-Chinese family. She often explores liminal spaces in her writing, such as the experience of being between cultures, or between waking and dreaming.