A Brief History of Time in our House

This second is the same as the last, a press of the screen, the same exhalation.We lie in bed having social intercourse. Our hearts have pumped four ounces of blood. Minutes replicate themselves like bacteria. Your quantum of likes leave you unloved. We have breathed sixteen litres of air. Little is different in this hour. Our livers have metabolised another drink, the sky sticks on black with white moon. Lunar and menstrual cycles are looping. With variant ingredients we cook the same suppers. Together we have shed a complete layer of skin. We took an excursion around the sun again this year, five hundred million miles back to where we started. The Earth is a fraction warmer although it doesn’t feel it here. Expended another 1.25% of our lives, give or take. On the event horizon of a black hole, time is white. Our white blood cells die every day.
by
Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite
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Winter Garden

In the garden she sprinkles nuts on the bird table, breaks the ice on the pond and throws in fish food. If the wind is blowing she'll light a bonfire and stare into the flames until there's nothing left but charred ends. He was always the feeder, she – the burner. She takes a spade from the rack of tools and looks over the overgrown vegetable patch. Since he went nothing had grown but weeds. She slices into the heavy winter soil and turns a sod, then another, then another. Soon the plot is weed-free, loamy and ripe for seed. She digs deep, straight furrows, marked with twine tied around sticks. She plants his expensive secateurs, his fleece-lined gardening gloves and calibrated dibber. She tears open his packets of seed and sows them onto the bonfire's embers. Some of them pop and crackle, others just hiss.

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fiction
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image
by

Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite

©
creator

The Waller

I pass the waller sometimes, at the highest points on the moors. I hear him before I see him, the ‘plink plink’ of his tools on the lichened stones, like the call of a bird. He’s mute to most folk but over the years I’ve got the odd weather word from him, ‘damp’ or ‘fair’, nothing more. No-one knows who’s paid him for the miles of walling he’s built or repaired, criss-crossing the cruel landscape. I’ve never seen him eat or rest or wear anything to keep warm other than a dust encrusted tweed jacket, even when the wind has cut your face like a blade. Today the moors are white with frost and a crinkle of snow and he said it was ‘crisp’. The ‘plink plink’ recedes into the silence as I walk. When I turn he’s disappeared, absorbed into the stone and bones of the country.

Credits

fiction
&
image
by

Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite

©
creator

How would you rate your overall experience on a scale of 1 to 5?

She found scoring questionnaires difficult and everything nowadays requested a score. The butchers, the library, even her last smear test, 5 for the young doctor and biscuits. Now the dating website wanted her to rate last night. He'd arrived before she did 5, bearded 1, and the meal was nice, although there could have been more of it 4. She’d have appreciated less talk of the ex-wife 2. He'd paid 5, and she couldn’t remember the last time a man had put a hand up her skirt in a pub carpark 4. Sex on her kitchen worktops had been a refreshing change 4, although the earth hadn’t moved 2, but then it never did for her, so perhaps 3. She’d never liked sharing her bed 1, but he had left the toilet spotless 4 and went early 5. Average 3. Average was normal.
by
Steven John
@stevenjohnwrite
Can You Illustrate This Piece?

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A Kiss of Sorts

He peeled a first class stamp off the folded rectangle of card, warm and concave from the wallet he carried in his back pocket. Licking had been better. When you licked a stamp a piece of you went with it; some bodily fluid, a kiss of sorts, a teardrop, or a spit. This letter should have all three. He wrote his own address on the envelope, but not his name. He wrote her name, without the ‘Mrs’. A ‘Mrs’ would imply a future. She would recognise his handwriting of course, and she’d have been expecting something, a text or an email. She’d know it was terminal when she saw a letter. A licked stamp would have carried his dried up kiss and a tear. She deserved that at least. And the spit? Well perhaps the spit was in the letter; a clearing of the throat, some acid reflux, a goodbye.
Credits

fiction by
Steven John

©
creators

image by
S.B. Borgersen
www.sueborgersen.com

Death Rattle

He’d begun to defragment sounds so he could distinguish each single click of friction. His razor over morning stubble; if he could decelerate so that each hair was ticked off like the stubby little pins in a music box. The butter knife over toast; if he could smear each crumb one at a time. The metal drum on his cigarette lighter; how deliberately could he thumb it and still get a spark? He took the milk bottle from the fridge without a scrape. Could he insert the spoon in the sugar without the phlegm of a spade in shingle? Stir his tea without clinking the side of the mug? He could hear the scrub of her toothbrush and the static of her hairbrush. Her shuffling walk. He winced, his teeth on edge.
by
Steven John

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