#264 Absence

by Sarah Charsley

Adam stands in front of the bedroom mirror contemplating his naked reflection: beanstalk legs widening slightly at the top where his butt should be; his torso, a long blank sheet of paper with arms dangling from the margins like branches knocked loose in the wind; spindly fingers and twigs for toes; a face barely wide enough for its features. He knows what he’d look like as a skeleton—exactly the same but without his cover on. He wonders why people have bodies at all: bones to break, blood to bleed, lungs to block, hearts to stop. He imagines a world where only minds exist. Perhaps he’s imagining heaven. He hopes so.

His parents’ shouts seep under the door, filling his bedroom like smoke. He opens a window to help him breathe. His mum screams, calls her husband a lying cheating bastard, tells him to go and this time not to come back, the slut is welcome to him.

The front door slams. His mum’s footsteps pound the stairs. From the window, Adam watches his dad stagger down the path towards his car. The car revs, jerks and then pulls away.

Adam opens his bedside drawer and takes out the penknife. Positioning the blade above the inner crease of his left elbow, he takes a deep breath before gently pressing down. He stares as a red bubble appears, swells, then trickles towards his wrist.

Soon, the familiar fading away. The intoxicating absence.

10 comments:

conboyhillfiction said...

That first paragraph is a stand-out paragraph for evocative description. It eases the character into mind so you hardly notice. Which I guess, is rather like his life. Very nicely done.

Andrew Allen said...

Sharp, elegant writing. The nakedness & mirror in the opening thrusts the narrative logically to the actions in the closing paragraphs. Sensitive & involving.

Dino Parenti said...

I love the paper/margin metaphor for this incomplete boy yearning for definition. Really beautiful work.

Anonymous said...

A serious and distressing subject tackled with poetic delicacy and deft creative craftsmanship. Very well done.

Kathryn's Daily Writing Workout said...

The first paragraph captivates with its metaphorical images. Most poignant is the struggle for control acted out between body and mind with the silence at the end signaling both release and hopelessness.

Madfrog said...

An amazing portrayal of a distressing situation which shows that the main character is not the only one having to deal with loneliness. Has he found the answer?

Anonymous said...

A beautiful piece of work that captures a distressing moment with accuracy and poetry.

Anonymous said...

I love the internal rhyme of lungs to block and heart to stop. very powerful positioning of the white skeleton and the dramatic red bubble of blood.

Rosemary said...

I almost feel I shouldn't be reading this, it is such a poignant invasion of a very private world. powerful and compact writing.

Maddie Sinclair said...

Haunting. Beautifully written. I want it to continue.