Monica sees her dead son in mirrors. He’s always standing somewhere in the room behind her, staring, silent, sullen. Sometimes in the mirror her son is younger, just five or six, playing with his trucks or trains. But most of the time he is his 10-year-old self. He watches her brush her teeth, put on makeup, straighten her clothes. He glares, resentful.
“… the lucky ones will be those who die more quickly.” — Noam Chomsky
She’s driving away, one of the unlucky ones. The sky, brown-gold. She’s never seen it look that way—colorized, like a movie from the Forties. The Martians Return. That kind of color.
Then the sky’s dark, umbral. They drive with their lights on. An artist and writer, she thinks of ways to describe the color: Postal orange, dark tangerine, Indian yellow, gamboge, cadmium orange.
As the winter chill receded and the air began to thaw, the rattle of garage doors opening merged with the slamming back of bolts on garden sheds. From said garages and sheds, the men of Kingfisher Avenue emerged, shielded by their lawnmowers.
Steve, with his bog-standard electric mower, the cord masked in electrical tape to repair the damage from all the times he’d mowed straight over it.
Gareth, with his fancy cordless affair that Steve is jealous of, not that he’s ever vocalised that fact.
Jack’s toes stretched, pointed like a ballet dancer, aching to keep him tall enough. But the water kept creeping.
At his chin.
I cried the hardest at Amber’s funeral. Not that it’s a competition, or anything. All I’m saying is my tears were real. Wet and itchy, dripping down my face.
To be honest, I wasn’t crying because I was Amber’s best friend. I admit I wasn’t. That honor went to Jenna, who I was standing next to in the cemetery, under the shadow of a stone angel with a cracked wing.
But I was grieving too. For what could have been. What should have been. For Amber, for me, and for a friendship cut short.
Chloe mentions that she got her new track pants in the metaverse when she went shopping with Alessa and you hate to think that they’re hanging out without you in some virtual Ivy Park and getting matching tattoos while you’re sitting at home eating salmon salad with your parents. She told you she’d get a matching tattoo with you, a real one when you both graduate – two halves of a butterfly – but you’ve heard that in the verse when you have tattoos like that and you line up the ink, the blue outline will shiver and crawl right out of your skin, hover above you as you hold onto each other on a roller coaster at Cedar Point even though you’ve never left Florida.
Shit is so much cooler in there. Tattoos mean something in there. People go places in there.
“C’mon babe, let’s watch another show,” Melanne Collie said, swathed in an unwashed, grey hoodie, and face painted with runny mascara. “Or we can take another nap.” She had felt Jack’s phone vibrate through the sofa cushions.
Jack could no longer remember how long they’d been a couple for. Even the memory of their first meeting was foggy. But Mel had moved into Jack’s small apartment almost immediately, decorating it to her taste–with dust, a dish-filled sink, and closed curtains. “Hang on, Mel,” he said.
When I was little, I always loved watching my sister paint. She would create the most realistic snow capped mountains and the rustiest torn down barns. I would sit next to her and watch her create whole worlds with just a few flicks of her palm. She would give me a blank canvas, and tell me to draw anything I wanted. I hated seeing that blank canvas, it was just a square of nothing, so I would paint streaks of color everywhere. Turquoise, maroon, magenta. Off they went, covering every corner of that ugly blankness.
Review by J.L. Corbett
Writer: Andriana Minou
Publisher: Kernpunkt Press
Release date: March 2020
Price: £11.21 (paperback)
Is death fabulous? We’re taught that it most certainly is not, that death is the sinister consequence of our own poor decisions, or our ill-advised habits, or pissing off the wrong person. Society teaches us that there is nothing in life which should be feared so much as death.