c o l l i d e



1. -

Grey ghosts of shadows whispering against rain-speckled windows, a cold cup of tea sat squat on the windowsill. Water-laden sunlight drags lazy hands over the kitchen walls, casting dark glares over the photo frames that hang there, lonely and cold, capturing memories and fragile moments in a silken web of instances. So many trapped words and snatched secrets, imprisoned within glass and transparent plastic.

You sigh, brushing the scattering of crumbs from the table cloth. There’s the disquiet murmur of raindrops against windowpane, a harmonious melody of fragile mornings and smothering blankets of pallid cloud. These were the dreary mornings you used to love, the mornings that clutched at minutes and clung on feverishly, letting instances drag on into forever.

Now there’s only the hollow silence, the crushing weight of snowflakes as they crowd around your house. Now there’s only the echoes left- the shadows of people and laughter that cling to the building like the stench of cigarette smoke. There used to be people here: just as there used to be games and laughter, secret smiles tossed from one to another like love letters in primary school.

You can still see them, though; you can make them out, lurking in the deepest corners of your peripheral vision- evenings spent curled next to the fireside, swathed in blankets and nursing bowls of popcorn, lazy mornings slumped over cups of coffee with slices of bacon hissing in the pan. Echoes of times long gone, days dragged away in a current of mourning and black clothes, funeral parties and running mascara.

Because even now, after so many weeks, you’re still so close to falling into the illusion that they’re still alive, that they’re seated next to you and humming the tune to their favourite rock song. Maybe it’s because you can’t believe that they’re gone- that you can’t let yourself believe so because what will you have then? What would be left for you if you accepted this bloodied and hollow reality and attempted to move on with your life?

It would be impossible, that’s for sure.

There’s no real way to move on. You’re being haunted, even after so long. Ghosts stalk the halls like wild cats hunting down a meal- well, there’s only one, actually. A figure made of bone and muscle, held together by skin so fragile that it could easily split apart in a single instant.

Echoes. Memories. The same goddam things over and over again, striking you like punches every time you try to get up.

The pitter-patter of a heartbeat as it trembled, the frequency always changing, always fluctuating. The heart-monitor mirror the organ’s timing with a flawless synchronisation; the beeping puncturing the fragile silence of the hospital ward like bullets. The memory of waiting an age for the machine to expel a single sound stains your thoughts like spilt ink on paper.

You can remember the dance of oxygen on their lips, the way their skin was always too hot, even curled up next to you in the middle of winter. You can remember the smell of alcohol staining the air as empty beer bottles littered the garden. You can remember the time that you both danced to the ending of your favourite film. When the credits began to roll, the music filtered into the room like water- tinny and ancient, but you turned it up and began to dance.

You remember them dancing with you.

No you haven’t got anything left.

This entire house contains echoes of them- inescapable, inerasable.  Memories that will insist on haunting you forever, that will hound you.

You can still hear the squeal of brakes, the stench of burning rubber as it soured the air like curdled milk. The screams, the noises- so loud they almost shattered your skull- the flashing lights that tore through the blanket of darkness and brought you back to life.

You can still see the car, or at least what was left of it. The cold corpse of a silent vehicle, torn apart in such a way it was almost as if taken to with a pair of shears. Metal and plastic scattered over the road like shrapnel in a warzone.

And the image of them lying there, broken, like an angel tossed from Heaven by a puerile god. Splayed out on the road, black tarmac slowly become tainted with a deep scarlet. Pale face, torn clothes, limbs thrown out at awkward angles.

How long has it been now? Days? Weeks? You don't know: not with the world speeding past like it does. It's like you're standing at the station with a dying person in your arms as the rest of the world speeds past on a high speed bullet train.

You’re still trying to move on- you are, you are- but you can’t. You’re trapped in a hollow existence, surrounded by whispers and memories, echoes of times long since snatched from your grasp. If only you could amputate the loneliness that clutches at you.

But you can’t.

So instead you lean back in the chair and close your eyes.

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