Saturday, 18 June 2022

'Pa. Dot. Dot. Dot.' by Helen Laycock

 The last time we saw him was on a screen. The nurse held an iPad so that we could talk to him; he had crocodile eyes, still and dull, as he stared at us.

His house reeks. Of loneliness. Of a lifetime’s clutter. Every window is nailed shut, suffocating us into his world as we sidestep the land mines of debris.

I am breathing in a dead man’s skin.

His shadow inhabits his armchair, the seat still depressed by his weight. His soul judges us as we lob his precious junk into boxes, then a skip, the detritus of his life taken further and further away.

A flick of a neighbour’s face symbolises communal relief. He was a loner. Dirty. Unkempt. The children weren’t allowed to play at that end of the road. Rumours were rife.

I watch you handling your father’s things, contemplating. You have his obsessive tendencies. More and more, I have noticed similarities over the years. I do have guilt about not visiting with you, but everything about him made my stomach churn.

‘No.’ I shake my head at the VCR in your hands and wait for you to walk to the front door with it and toss it into the skip before I pull out a drawer and upend its contents.

A tiny white sock alights on the top, matted with dust. It is incongruous among the decades-old stuff.

You blanch as you take the box off me and disappear with it. I hear the oof outside.

I need air.

The sock has been swallowed into the belly of the skip.

Or hidden.

I scrub at the graffiti with turps – acknowledging their spelling prowess – until only two letters remain: ‘PA’.

Did you ever really know him, I wonder…

The visits. The sock.

Do I know you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm left with a sick feeling - and admiration for your writing. Lizy


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