Monday 11 July 2022

Embers by Heather Haigh, a glass of flat champagne,


I strangle another sheet, the crumpled ghost's tail ready to catch a flame. Seven years of love-leaden sheaves, sprinkled with the sighs of our longing, garnished by the grunts of our passion, and heavy with my hopes for the future. Only now, do I realise the expression of those yearnings was mine alone. His outpourings came straight from the groin.


They warn you of the seven-year itch. They don’t tell you to expect a full-blown dose of pox, each festering pustule growing, swelling, taking on a life of its own. He didn’t just scratch it but tore at it like a mad dog remembering where the bones are buried, every feverish eruption spawning another outbreak.


When Julie suggested a break-up party, it seemed a more palatable option than murder, but my mood is as flat as the uncorked champagne I found stashed at the bottom of his wardrobe. I poke at Dan’s words and they turn to ashes, just as my friends arrive.


I insist I’m in charge of food and ignore Joe’s quips about fire and cavemen, which have worn as thin as the cucumber wilting in the salad bowl. I watch the lingering swirls of our seduction season the sausages, the ebbing heat of our expectation sear the steaks, and the reality of our romance char the sweetcorn husks.

            I catch hints of my friends in the chinking mirror slivers that hang from the wind chime above me.
            A glimmer of Gloria, as she shines her sunny side out and swallows her sarcasm with Sauvignon. 'Don’t worry Joe, I’m sure Eva will do a great job. Everything smells wonderful over there.'

            A slice of Julie, picking her teeth as meticulously as she chooses her words, deft enough to get to the nitty-gritty but careful enough to avoid stabbing the tender spots. 'These appetisers are excellent. Let's savour delicious things to come. We'll worry about the clearing up later, and we'll all muck in.'

My friends pile their plates high, sharing smiles and compliments as warm as the fare. I chew on my portion and allow it to fill the emptiness. The flames are dead but there's a gentle warmth keeping the evening chill at bay. I notice the first star winking and wonder if I should make a wish.


My reverie is broken by Joe. 'Pass the mustard, lass.' I use long-handled tongs to bridge the gap between us.
             Julie hands over the wine. 'Come on. It’s a party.'

I stretch and look upwards again. That winking star is no longer alone. The world still turns. I shrug and wink right back.

About the author

Heather is an emerging, disabled, working-class writer, from England. Her words have been published by: Anansi Archives, Hysteria, Black Moon Magazine and others. You can find her on Twitter @HeatherBookNook 

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