A fog wraps itself around her limbs like a sheet of white linen. Such linen might’ve been purchased from a charity store, or pinched from a three-star hotel. Either way, it has a delicate floral design. One that wraps itself around the shape of her body. It’s blanketed with a light dusting of dandruff, while the waters of the womb residing within trickle like a fast-flowing stream. The stream in question is the kind you might stumble upon in a small village in the English countryside, someplace in the heart of Cornwall. Near a church. A church with a well-maintained hedge maze containing the laughter of invisible young children who will one day be as dead as the old people in neglected family photo albums dating back to the seventies. Once they had names, and stories, but now not even in memory do they hold meaning, for the meaning of their time is as lost as the songs of trees; trees buried deep beneath the shade of nondescript buildings housing the scum of jilted generations more superfluous than those that went before. On cassette, Elton John sings the songs of Nick Drake, and in a beer garden where I used to drink with an old girlfriend, the outlines of our previous shapes move to the pale moonlight but only when no one is looking. White teeth. Curls of hair. Touching fingertips across a great divide. In a nearby car park, the gravel underfoot is littered with dead cigarettes and broken promises contained in tiny metallic canisters. Aeolus. Medusa. Letters in envelopes adorned with coffee rings and half-remembered dreams involving the bloated bellies of pregnant runaways once flowers now nothing more than chicken bones in fast-food wrappers. There is no love, just a teenage wasteland spent waiting for a man to show her the way, but she’s a lonely soul, so she populates it with the clumsy touch of boys. No one can blame her, nor can they hate her. Impatience isn’t a sin, but what a miserable thing it is to pretend when it’s against your best wishes. Secretly, and unashamedly, she can’t help but spite herself because that’s what she does best. The waters of that stream have grown from a trickle to a series of mountainous waves in the time it takes her to find her inhaler. With one eye open, and the other swollen shut, she views the sky outside, which is grey always grey. The wooden window frame is a lame TV with only two channels forever the same—the same as yesterday, and the same as today.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

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