He knew he didn’t look well with his pale face and sunken cheeks. Yet there was a glint of mischief as he clutched onto the paper bag, safe guarding its contents. A Cornish pasty that was a rarity these days, and he planned to enjoy it with a cold can of beer, followed by a doze in his old overstuffed armchair. He was going to eat this as nature intended; out of the packet with dirty hands and supping on his beer. He already had the can cooling in the fridge, hidden amongst the carrots and last Christmas’ forgotten sprouts.
The old man strode with purpose, whistling as he went on his way. His rubber wellied feet kicked up the leafy carpet, his arms balancing a rake over his shoulder. The rake suited him well; the metal rusting and old like him, the spokes bent out of shape from a lifetime of labour. He began to rake up the fallen leaves, the old whistling tune mingling with the delicate notes of the leaves as they cut through the air. He worked tirelessly, amassing piles standing proud like monuments amidst the trees. All the while he whistled that old whistle tune.
He stood by the river bank with murder on his mind. It had been too long and his body was becoming restless. His blood boiled hot so that his whole body screamed, the monster inside protesting against its incarceration. He had been watching her with a desire so strong he thought it would be never-ending, and he knew the time was near. Each night he fantasised, her contorted face emblazoned in his memory as he hacked, strangled and beat his way to ecstasy; his actions the shields against insanity. The madness of his monster needed to be fed.
He walked in the room and came to an abrupt stop. He looked around, frantically trying to recall what had brought him here. His breathing became shallow as panic set in, the ability to remember hovering just out of reach. Tears pricked in his eyes as his mind remained blank; a dark fog eclipsing even the simplest of thoughts from his head. He did an about turn, stumbling in his slippered feet as he raced back to the safe sanctuary of his chair. He threw himself into it, allowing it to swallow him, hiding him from his life.
As she washed the blood from her hands, she finally realised the full extent of what she had done. She regarded his body as it lay limp on top of the now blood soaked wooden table and dared it to move. But it didn’t, couldn’t. The now sliced open chest was still. She had finally done it, and now it was over. She had told him often enough that he would be hers, had promised time and time again, though he had never believed it. But as she watched his heart lying still, hers at last, she smiled, victorious.
The plumes of smoke surrounded her, enveloping her in a shroud so dense it eclipsed the world beyond. It clung to her, seeping through her clothes, her skin, her very bones. It weighted her down, the ethereal mist an anchor dragging her deep into the earth. First her feet falling through as if no ground existed beneath her. Then her legs, up to her hips, her waist, past her shoulders until only her head remained. She took one last gasp of smoke filled air, disappearing down as her now weighted body dragged her further towards hell.
For a short while I see the old house as it was. Freshly painted walls, swing seat on the veranda, the old tyre hanging from the oak tree. But it’s soon swallowed by time, the mist rolling back. It’s older now, a sold sign swings from the porch. I stand in the passage, dust motes dancing at the bottom of the stairs. I remember you standing there with a hole in your t-shirt. I stick my finger in it and tickle your tummy. I can’t help but cry, this house soon becoming just a hole where we once lived.