A Cold Collation by Abigail Wyatt

October 22, 2012 Comments Off on A Cold Collation by Abigail Wyatt

‘It is no more than our duty,’ one of them said and my heart froze inside me.  They approached me deliberately: a steady gaze, a series of slow, measured steps. In their leader’s face I saw no trace of menace but something that was almost affection.  He gave the impression that, at any moment, he might offer me avuncular advice.

He was slightly built, of medium height, and the very picture of elegance.  He wore a dove-grey suit and a lavender shirt, pale and impeccably crisp.  Although his hair was grey and thinning, he had the look of a man who knows he is a force to be reckoned with.  He had a trim waistline, an intelligent expression, and an air of authority, as if he knew what he wanted to achieve and also how best to get his way.

‘I am afraid there is nothing else for it,’ he said.  ‘In this there can be no exceptions,’ and he made the very briefest of smiles and the most perfunctory of nods.

Then, as they held me at the point of a knife, a fourth man stepped purposefully forward and drew from his pocket a small, flat, black leatherette case.  He lifted the lid with exaggerated care, and I saw his features soften.  Then something flashed sharp as silver in the chilly morning light.

Before I could either speak or cry out, he was suddenly upon me.  He worked in silence with a child’s concentration, his pink tongue at the corner of his mouth. At first there was no pain, only biting cold and a curious crawling sensation.  I had no idea of the scale of his work until I saw the rushing of my blood.

I came spinning back to earth to find myself lying in something like a metal container.  On all sides, its walls rose up, smooth and shiny and grey.  I was now quite alone and, though the pain was fierce, I felt a thrill of perverse satisfaction.  They had had to cut it from out of my mouth before I would give up my truth.

© 2012 Abigail Wyatt

Abigail Wyatt lives near Redruth in Cornwall where she writes poetry and short fiction. She is a founder member of the Red River Poets and performs her work locally, appearing this year at the Heartlands Project and The Penzance Literary Festival. Over the past five years, she has been fortunate enough to have been published in more than sixty outlets. She is a regular contributor to Poetry 24 and the winner of the 2012 Lisa Thomas Poetry Prize. In terms of short fiction, her most recent work is ‘Old Soldiers, Old Bones and Other Stories’ (£4.99) which became available through One Million Stories in June, 2012. Abigail can be contacted at http://www.facebook.com/abigailelizabethwyatt  She is always happy to hear from fellow writers.

Evening Prayer by Abigail Wyatt

May 21, 2012 Comments Off on Evening Prayer by Abigail Wyatt

Judith screws her eyes tight shut and tries to empty her mind. Hers was not a religious home, so she never really learned how to pray. Even if she’d had, it wouldn’t be easy with so many distractions: hushed whispers, moans and sighs, all that restless fidgeting. Too many people crowded in too close.

Two seats away to Judith’s right, a flame-haired infant is grizzling. He isn’t crying properly yet, but he will be soon. The child’s mother, awkward and flustered, shushes and tries to soothe him but his monkey face grows red and crumples as his whimpering rises to a squall.

To her right hand side, an ashen-faced man coughs and splutters and wheezes. The phlegm rattles in his chest, and he seems to gulp at the air. He smells of tobacco, aftershave, ancient sweat, and peppermint. The stink of him invades Judith’s nostrils, but Judith is aware that Father Andrew is seated just three rows in front of her. She tries to breathe deeply, allowing herself to drift on the current of his voice. For a time, his words are smooth and comforting, but then something snags on her consciousness. It gnaws away at her peace of mind till she is forced to open her eyes.

As though in slow motion, she sees the face of Father Andrew: the old priest’s lips are mouthing words, but his eyes are stark and wide. His hollow cheeks are deathly pale as he stares past the whole congregation. Judith feels her heart lurch up into her mouth as she follows the line of his gaze. Fixed on a point fifty feet away, there is no mistaking it: two dark fins are bearing down towards their starboard side.

Judith turns in silent appeal to the frozen figure of the cleric — a gust of wind whipping at his skirts and tugging at the roots of her hair as the swell of a wave picks up the orange inflatable.

Judith swallows hard and closes her eyes.

© 2012 Abigail Wyatt

Abigail Wyatt lives in Redruth in Cornwall. She publishes poetry and short fiction and read regularly at The Melting Pot, Krowji, The Unplugged Chameleon, St Ives, and The Bespoken Word, Penzance.

Letting Go by Abigail Wyatt

November 7, 2011 Comments Off on Letting Go by Abigail Wyatt

I must have said good-bye to you a hundred times but you never seemed to hear me. Now I am attending your funeral mass and the chapel is decently full. In defiance of your po-faced, apostate parents I have sent you white chrysanthemums. I asked the florist to temper them with shades of purple and blue. Your friends might say you would laugh at all the fuss but I think I know you better. You always saw more in public approval than you ever cared to let on.

‘It was family flowers only,’ your sister has informed me as we entered, elegantly tall with narrow hips and darkly probing eyes.

She reminds too much of the photographs, of your pouting alter ego. Though I wanted very much to outstare the challenge of those eyes, that memory was still too clear.

Watching the bearers carry you in, I feel suddenly smaller and much lighter. It is almost as if I am full of small perforations through which the smoke from the incense could blow. When the congregation rises to its feet, I sway and almost fall forward. My mother is too old and too frail to stand but her rheumy eyes narrow with concern.

‘Are you alright?’ she mouths; and she holds out a hand that cannot reach me.

I receive her gaze like two small drills until, finally, she looks away.

I don’t know if I am alright but I want to believe that it is possible. After the committal, I will shed a few tears, then walk calmly away. And let that be the end of it all. There can no longer be anything between us. Never again will your malted eye slide away from my gaze.

On my right hand side, suited and booted, my brother stands like a sentry. Square and squat, he shows ‘respect’ but also that he doesn’t give a damn. He never liked you. There was one time, I remember, he offered to have you ‘sorted’. ‘Nothing too serious’ was how he put it. I had only to say the word.

I didn’t, of course. Say the word, I mean. I still loved you madly. I already knew that the pain was coming but I had bowed my head before the fire. I wonder now, if I had said yes, how much that might have changed the outcomes. Perhaps you taking a beating then might have somehow saved us both.

Now we have left the music behind us and I hope that the worst may be over. My ‘sensible’ court shoes with the two-inch heel are sinking into the ground. I came here intent on forgiving you all but now I find I’m ambushed by anger. As I unclasp my fingers and the black earth falls, I know we will meet again.

© 2011 Abigail Wyatt

Abigail Wyatt writes for her life in the shadow of Carn Brea in Cornwall. Formerly a teacher at Redruth School, she is now very grateful to be able to descrbe herself as ‘a full-time writer’ and she would like to thank the editors of all the magazines that have published her work. Abigail Wyatt can be contacted at abigailwyatt.blogspot.com. Her poetry collection, ‘Moths in a Jar’ (Palores) was published in October, 2010.

Eleventh Hour by Abigail Wyatt

September 19, 2011 Comments Off on Eleventh Hour by Abigail Wyatt

‘Is that clock right?’

The young man was pale and drawn and dressed in his Sunday best. His dark suit had the shine of age and the collar of his shirt, though once fine linen, had been worn thin by time.

With great solemnity, his older companion produced and consulted a pocket watch. He laid it on his open palm where it sat like a fat, golden toad.

‘It’s less than a half minute fast. ‘He spoke with smug certainty. ‘I checked it myself this morning. There is no disputing this watch.’

The younger man examined the time-piece with a mixture of distaste and admiration.

‘Padre, he said, ‘that’s a beautiful pocket watch but a man may be damned in an instant.’
The chaplain blushed to the roots of his hair.

‘I will pray for your soul,’ he said.

© 2011 Abigail Wyatt

Abigail Wyatt writes for her life in the shadow of Carn Brea in Cornwall. Formerly a teacher at Redruth School, she is now very grateful to be able to descrbe herself as ‘a full-time writer’ and she would like to thank the editors of all the magazines that have published her work. Abigail Wyatt can be contacted at abigailwyatt.blogspot.com. Her poetry collection, ‘Moths in a Jar’ (Palores) was published in October, 2010.

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