Philip couldn’t get the remainder of what Joanna maintained was his favourite word out. He’d come home early to the secluded cottage they’d moved into during the winter, hoping to surprise her.
Turned out she had been thinking along the same lines.
She wheeled around to look at him, a little lost for words.
Same way he was.
“It’s not what it looks like,” she said.
“That’s good,” he replied. “Because what it looks like is blood. A whole lot of blood. Like you smashed someone who really pissed you off into it with some ungodly, demon power you neglected to tell me about.” Continue reading “A Bloody Mess”
“I forgot I used to look so good. So young. You don’t feel yourself aging, you know? Degrading, as the years gradually go by. It’s only when you look back at the photos, the ones you’ve been allowed to keep, that you see the change. But to be staring it right in the face, literally, like this. Jesus. Really brings it home.” Rachel looked down at her hands, cupped in her lap, comparing them to the hands of the young woman, posed in exactly the same way, sitting next to her. Rachel’s skin looked like leather in comparison. Moisturizing had fallen by the wayside over the last three decades, like her commitment to anything else that served to better mind and body.
“Who are you?” the young woman asked.
“You’re not even trying. Look at me,” said Rachel.
“I am looking at you.”
“No. I mean look at me. Really look at me. Look at the mole under my left eye. Look at the birthmark on my cheek. Look at the tiny bald spot in my eyebrow, the scar from where I walked headfirst into-”
“And what are you supposed to be?”
The child stood staring up at Miriam in silence, the expression blank. Or at least, the expression on the mask hiding their face was blank.
It didn’t say fun.
It didn’t say scary.
It didn’t say anything.
Every other kid she had seen through the window passing her house that night, their parents steering them on to the next door with a whisper, had been some kind of superhero, Marvel or Star Wars character.
Or at least she guessed, anyway.
So out of touch now.
After only a year. Continue reading “Homecoming”
One minute you have enough time for one last pint. Then three pints later you’re running for the last bus. Which was why when I made it to Pearse Street, I hoped against hope that the one of the buses approaching in the distance would have the lucky number 67 on their front.
When the blurred digits on the front of the first bus in the procession came into focus, I saw that it was out of service.
Same story with the next three.
They were all finished and going nowhere right now but back to the depot.
Right as the homing beacon was about to kick in and have me walk halfway home before hailing a cab to save a few euro, a bus pulled in right in front of me.
When I didn’t even have my hand out.
A bus driver looking for passengers? Nothing strange about that at all.
The doors opened with a hiss, and I realised I hadn’t even caught the route number.
“Come on, we’ve got lives to live,” said the driver.
“But where are you going?” I asked him.
“Home,” he said. “Chop, chop.”
It must have been the beer that made that make sense, because I climbed on, fishing my travelcard out of my wallet. But I couldn’t find the scanner, where it should have been.
“Don’t worry about it,” said the driver.
I couldn’t really see his face, what with the low light and the thick, scratched Perspex between us.
“The ride is free, is it?” I asked him.
He laughed, as the doors closed behind me and the bus pulled away from the kerb. “No such thing as a free ride, pal. You know that.”