Driving with her eyes shut, she makes her way to a nearby supermarket. It’s not one she’s been in for years, but pulling into the carpark, she finds it exactly as it used to be, which reassures and agitates her at the same time for reasons she can’t quite explain. Parking up near the entrance, she sits there for a moment stroking Herbie as he sleeps on the passenger seat. Rubbing behind his ears, she gets out and closes the door as softly as she can, not wanting to wake him. Inside, the place is quiet. A few shoppers here and there, each one looking as out of place and suspicious as she does, not to mention the uneven mix of workers stacking shelves and serving at the checkouts, there in body but not in mind. Smiling at them, she picks up a basket and heads to the booze aisle located at the back of the store. Next to it is the bakery, and even though the hour’s late, the lingering scent of fresh bread causes her to make a detour. Picking up some pastries, she licks her lips and tells herself it’s not too bad because they’re for Herbie as well. Grinning at her mischievous plan, she puts herself back on track while slyly opening the packet and breaking off some of the glazed pastry within, bringing it to lips that can barely contain her glee. Turning the corner, she takes a step and sees his face causing the basket to drop from her right hand with its handles still pointing up as it lands by her feet. In that first second, her heart shrinks to the size of a marble. The air in her lungs is squeezed clean out, too, and as she opens her mouth to breathe, all she can do is look like a fish out of water, a fish scooped out of the bowl by a cunning cat ready to play with it until it breathes its last. As she stands there gasping, he walks towards her grinning that same grin from the photo. His eyes beaming at her, squeezing her insides even tighter until the pain becomes almost too much to bear. She tries to say something, but before she can, he moves past as if she didn’t even exist. Spinning around, she sees him put his hand on the face of a younger version of herself before kissing those lips that once belonged to her. Understanding yet not registering the ghosts that move before her, she watches as he pushes that younger version against a display of fresh bread, and as his hands move up her top and he kisses her chin and then her throat, she sinks to her knees next to her basket and the open packet of pastry. Watching as the other X closes her eyes as he rubs her belly before nibbling her nose, it’s at that moment she realises it’s not them who are ghosts, but her, staring at them from the ground with a sense of longing as heavy as all the shiny bottles of sin looking down on her from the surrounding shelves.

A Journal for Damned Lovers UK

A Journal for Damned Lovers US

Anthology UK / Anthology US

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