He sat in the sun

He sat in the sun on a bench in the park, his jacket too heavy. ‘May I?’ said the woman who appeared out of nowhere, pointing at the other end of the bench. ‘Aye, of course,’ he almost said but instead grunted and nodded and looked away. It’s not much of a story to tell, the woman may have thought, unless I invent that he is famous or an actor or identical to that man who had done that terrible thing when she was only a child. Her parents had turned the newspaper over but she had found and read the article, following the words with her finger. The memory had stayed with her like a fishhook through the lip. She sat and did not look at the man, who did not look at her.

He did not answer when she first spoke to him, nor later when she stood up and left. All he could think of was his daughter.

Your nails dig deep

Your nails dig deep into my hands
We are scared, but trusting, shiver

All is for the best and all will be well
Sirens call the people

The lights of the aurora fade in the sun
and then a sudden darkness

The stone is pushed with silent force
Dirt, torn fingers, scarring

The light again, the screams, the silence
Nobody breathes. No-one says the word.

You need not call me ‘Miss’

Thomas always called her ‘Miss’ and every day Sandra wondered why. She had told him once, from behind a half-smile, that he could use her name. ‘Miss’ was just too great a formality. She longed for him one day to call her ‘Sandra, my darling’.

Thomas could not say her name: his voice might crack and break. ‘Miss’ told how much he missed her when she was not there. One day, one day, he would call her ‘Sandra, my darling’.

Time passed but still warm words did not. The air drew frost when Thomas breathed ‘Miss’ and slowly, slowly, the ice between them grew. Seasons passed but words were always winter.

Then she was gone; and then she was back. And now her name was ‘Madam’.