MAIL ORDER by Dave Schofield
He is in the next room making sounds like a tornado as he sleeps. I have come into the kitchen. His every breath riled me, the way he had sucked on his teeth after the meal, his face contorted as he chased threads of meat with his tongue.
The front room is filled with his bad breath. His mouth is open, it makes me think of a cave I once discovered which gurgled and sighed as the sea lapped in and out. He has kept the front room as his last wife arranged it, like a sacred shrine to her. Her picture is on the mahogany sideboard, fat-legged, smiling in her holiday clothes. At least the other rooms of the house have been disturbed by his scruffy life, but this one has been maintained. I have stood and peered at the tacky ornaments in the cabinet, cats and horses and cut-glass ashtrays. Like a child’s selection of trinkets, objects without any beauty.
Now I’m standing at the back window, where the sink is. It’s easy to hate this town, and this life, when all you have to look at is a high-walled yard. The paving isn’t even straight; it is like everything he does, half-hearted and messy. In the corner a tree struggles to reach for sunlight. I feel sorry for it, stuck in the mouldy corner surrounded by cigarette butts and dead plants. I want to help it escape, to knock the wall down so that it can spread, and find other young trees and grow. I think of the mango trees that lined the path to school, their fruits hanging on long threads from the branches like teardrops.
His house has become my house. It is dismal. The hall painted grey, the kitchen tanned nicotine-brown by his cheap cigarettes. The carpets are the colour of old fish, a dull grey, spotted where he has spilt tea or coffee. When he allows the heating to be turned on the whole house creaks, I am sure there are ghosts walking up and down. I hear their feet pressing lightly behind me, their fingertips on my back before I turn. I hate the heating—even though I am always cold here; it suffocates me, the stench of dust and damp becomes thick and hot in the air.
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Dave Schofield is a Creative Writing MFA student based in Manchester (UK). He enjoys writing poetry and prose and has published both, in places such as Tales of Old, Fiction 365, Journal Twenty-20, Manifold, Poetic Hours, Other Poetry, and many more. He works with additional-needs learners at the University of Bolton, is an amateur photographer and a first-class art graduate, and enjoys running and cycling. Dave is also editing a literary magazine with the first issue planned for the spring: http://cutawaymagazine.co.uk/
He blogs at: http://manchestersartisticson.com/