Tissue Paper Whispers by Ali McGrane

The wind is changing. Early morning traffic spurts like water from a stuttering tap. I have no memory of sleep, but the dream threads tell me otherwise. When you left for work, for the day’s soft drift, you seemed so far from yourself. Outside, early morning traffic spurts across the junction like water under pressure. I know talking doesn’t always help. When you left, time was tight, and you seemed so far. There’s a dead bird under the small brown bush outside the kitchen window; I don’t know what kind of bush it is. You said, talk doesn’t always make things better. If we bury one thing, will something else grow? A small brown bird is singing in the dead bush outside the kitchen window; maybe we could have saved that bush. The clutch of children playing on the green sounds so close. If we bury one thing will something new grow? I gather small mementos, the ones we agreed to keep, to feather an old shoebox. I hear children playing, so close. When you come home, I will tell you we should quit this place, this dead bush, these stuttering lines of traffic. I gather the pieces, and nest them, in the old shoebox, in tissue paper whispers, in breaths. If we moved to the sea, would that make us more like breaking waves, churning the edges smooth? When you get back, I’ll say, let’s quit this place, this bush, these stuttering lines. Outside, the wind is changing.

Ali McGrane lives and writes between the sea and the moor. Her work appears in anthologies and online, including FlashBack Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary and Splonk. She is a reader for Fractured Literary. Her Bath-shortlisted flash novella, The Listening Project, is available from Ad Hoc Fiction. Find her @Ali_McGrane_UK

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