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   Despite his job and the suit he plastered himself in and the boyish fringe he slicked and the briefcase he hefted that wasn’t really heavy, their father was a joker.    She remembered staring at the jammy sawdust and wondering, Was it a game? Musical statues? What would the prize be? But the music still swished. The man with the coal voice whistled as she looked at her father’s still figure. There was a weird wet rattling sound that would stay in her ears forever. Her stomach tightened. Don’t touch the sawdust. Her fingers stretched forward.   ‘Daddy?’    He twitched. She’d fallen.    Annie swerved. Zig-zagged past the van piled with logs. When had he overtaken her? Her heart ticked. ‘Shit.’    She blew out. Focus. She stared at the road, concentrating on following its bend until her pulse calmed.    She couldn’t avoid being enclosed in the memory again. Wading through the soup-thick dusk towards the workshop, darkness sitting at the ankles of the hedges. The bird chatter, shrill and curious, like newly hatched chicks, a farmers’ tractor clearing its throat, the stretched bleat of the sheep and the sheepdog’s bark that Wilfred, hot and lazy, had echoed half-heartedly from his favourite place before the oven.    Her father’s pointy elbows had been resting in a bed of wood curls. She and Neal had often nudged each other as he scissored up dry chicken or chased peas around his plate.   Grasshopper.    Or she had. Neal was older and above such things. He watched everything in his quiet way that she would only understand later.    ‘I’d been waiting,’ he’d said.   ‘Eh?’    They were in refurbished gin palace near London Bridge. They’d both happened to be in the city at the same time. Her for another interview, him in an attempt to stitch up another unraveling relationship.    ‘Waiting.’ He’d bounced his palms, as if weighing something.    His spit had tapped her ear. She frowned. The Friday crowd roared around them. Suits. Banker types. And she’d realised. Waiting for it to happen.    A sign flew past flagging up the miles to go. The crack in the car window ruffled her hair, letting in the meatiness of cow shit. Why was she going to the cottage anyway? Richard wouldn’t keep his promise. And even if he did, why would he do it today? Simply because she’d texted him out of the blue. He’d be with someone else by now, surely. Married? Engaged? Curled up on the sofa rubbing someone else’s feet? It had been a year. Annie glanced at her phone on the passenger seat. Missed calls from Neal.    She stabbed the radio on, fitted her sunglasses to stop fromsquinting. Lines, young lady, her mother would say. Look at me. And she 58

LIJLA Vol.2, No.1 February 2014

Profile for Sacred Heart College

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

Profile for lijla
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