The barber-striped blades of the level crossing fell and, one breath later, civilisation fired past like a bullet from a gun. I waited, Rum tensed at my side, and then continued on, releasing the extension lock on his lead, the swish of his ribboned tail communicating his pleasure at this small freedom. At the crest of the road, I stepped, and Rum bounced, over the sagged section of fence wire and into the field. The land lay fallow, my Hunters squelching in the waterlogged grooves of the soil, dull and lifeless in the shadow of the fir forest. On rare summer days, when heat distorted the air into ruffled fabric, the line of firs shifted and undulated, an emerald curtain revealing another world – which, for me, it did. Every morning, I came to learn more about its indigenous race of insects – gods of nothing, my husband called them – while Rum conquered the undergrowth with a raised hind leg, each of us in our element. My latest academic paper was on the Andrena fulva – the tawny mining bee – due for publication in the forthcoming volume of Entomologist’s Gazette. I never used to believe that I had the intellectual capacity for science, but time taught me that brains came second to commitment and, after six years married to Paul, I was more committed to my work than ever.
That night was still. I heard the silence of all those lost souls. I considered myself being one. I dismissed the idea very quickly and drank another gin. Straight gin was allegedly, the drink of alcoholics. Specifics for some reason outweighed quantity. The gin wasn’t really a choice, it was simply what was there.
Fred Furk is mowing the grass when all asudden KABOOM! Next thing he knows, he’s spread out on his back clean across the yard. Lucky Girl, his Black Lab, is licking his face, and Doris is standing over him. She’s moving her lips, but he don’t hear a thing. Then it all goes dark again.
Hopeless, my father said, taking another bite out of the meatball sandwich Mom had made him.
What is? I asked him.
You. He put the food down. You’ll say whatever garbage comes to mind, regardless of who’s around, won’t you? To get a cheap laugh. You’ve got no filter between your brain and your big mouth.
She knew why he hung himself.
Holly had just returned home when she heard her her mother’s screams. She ran upstairs and into her brother’s room.
I wish my older self could go back and speak to me as a kid. Don’t we all? What to say though? I suppose some people would think about what wisdom and advice they could pass on. How many would be able to tell about specific people or situations to avoid? This would all make their younger self happier and more comfortable. A warming hug from a ‘Drop Dead Fred’ scene.
The two of them laughed as they skipped into the woods.
“You are rubbish!”
“I know sweet cheeks, my coordination is terrible.”
“It’s step forward, pause, step forward other foot, pause, step forward only quickly. Sing ‘Mary Mary, Quite Contrary…And You’ll get it.”
They both bent over laughing.