This had happened before. It was the same each time, yet somehow, entirely different. It always came about at night, that was for sure, and always after her parents had gone to bed when she was free to roam the apartment in search of food. What set them apart, though, was what triggered these, shiftings. The triggers seemed to change like the direction of the wind or her father’s bowel movements. There was no regularity to them at all. Sat before the heater, this was the third or fourth time it had happened this way. It had also taken hold when she was sat on the toilet, watching TV on the settee and even when she was searching the cupboard under the sink for any food her father might’ve hidden. She never saw it coming but always knew it was going to happen if that made sense?  The first few times, she thought she’d been dreaming and didn’t pay much attention to the things she saw at all, but the more it happened, and the more she saw, she knew that mere dreams these were not. No, the visions were not dreams, but real like the scabs on the back of her hands caused by the eczema that itched and itched and itched until she cried. Sometimes she saw things that had yet to come about. Other times, things that already been and gone. Like the man who had kissed her mother for the first time back when they were studying together at college. She saw it all. Hated it all. Pointing the man out in a collection of polaroids she discretely kept in a shoebox by the side of her bed, Gretchen was disgusted that her mother had been with someone other than her father. In Gretchen’s tiny eyes, it was the ultimate betrayal. Perhaps, though, she shouldn’t have seen it as such. Perhaps, she should have seen it as a way of knowing that her mother was also a lover, a woman in her own right who at one point had been free to live her life without the chains of motherhood and marriage. Perhaps little Gretchen secretly knew this and had been so aghast at the thought that she pretended not to notice. Another time, she glimpsed her father losing his wallet in town. She’d seen him drop it outside a pawn shop. To think of it as time travel was silly, but what else had it been? When her father came home one day, cursing that he’d lost all his money and bank cards, an argument had broken out. Her mother had accused him of drunkenly losing it in a bar. She was quite insistent. Had poked him in his chest and berated him for being such a bum. Gretchen eventually stepped between the two of them and told her she was wrong, that it had slipped from her father’s pocket purely by chance when he was walking along on his way back from work. She told them of its location. She even drew a little map. They didn’t believe her, but when she insisted, the three of them left the apartment and made their way downtown. It didn’t take long for her to find it. When she did—on a street she had never before walked—her parents exchanged bewildered glances. It wasn’t impossible for her to have made an educated guess, but even so, it was some spooky shit. Her father had lifted her on his shoulders and cheered her for being so clever, while her mother chewed her fingernails, wondering whether or not little Gretchen had been touched by the devil.

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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