Hello All, time for Part Two, yay. It’s Fiction, so feel free to skip this post if that’s not yer thing! This piece won tiny accolades in several small writing competitions here in Australia, although it’s a few years old now. PART ONE is here, so please read it first.
Then let me know what you think, G xO
“Roadside”- Part Two
‘Don’t touch him! And don’t touch me! I hate you!’
Blowing the lid off her temper, Lucy pushes past Eris. She shoves open the kitchen screen door, and slams out into the garden. Her exit seems trailed by black vapour that sucks energy out of her husband.
‘I can’t fucking believe you’re hassling me about this. Isn’t it hard enough already?’ she yells from the lawn.
He can hear the tears catching round her words, and hurries with arthritic knees toward the door.
‘Stay away from me, Eris, I mean it. Leave me alone.’ Her command whips between strands of hair as she runs out the garden gate. ‘I’m a nightmare.’
In the kitchen, the timer’s bell rings.
‘You’re being a nightmare today, that’s for sure,’ he mutters, following her outside. ‘Don’t be silly Lucy,‘ he calls. ‘Come back inside. It’s getting cold, and you’re barefoot. Let’s not scream at each other in front of the neighb…’
‘Stop telling me what to do. Sod the neighbours. Leave me alone!’
At the base of the tree, the wildflowers thrive, leaning into the wood, casting fine lace shadows. At odds with the thin dry soil and scrubby weeds everywhere else.
She didn’t notice the bus driving down the hill. All she could think about was running away from her husband. Tyres screeched, muffled cries from passengers, the stench of a skid across tarmac. Then a sickening quiet, as if everything in the area was holding its breath. But still it came: the soft punch of metal meeting flesh.
She twisted and fell.
‘Oh my God. Lucy!’ He runs toward her, feeling like his legs are moving through mud. Damn knees.
In the kitchen, the smell of burning begins.
As eucalyptus leaves drop from the branches, they flicker past the homemade roadside marker. Neat, white, firmly nailed into the trunk.
Thirty minutes later, the bus and its ruffled cargo have travelled on, feathers smoothed. Lucy and Eris sit on their rough garden bench under a weeping tree. Tears are being dried. Hers and his.
‘I do understand you need a proper headstone to mourn at, Eris.’ She touches his knee. ‘I’m sorry. I just resist making it so official. And you know I hate cemeteries.’
Her weak smile gifts the words to her husband. He strokes the silver hair, remembering how much he has loved it since the days it was gold. He cleans with his handkerchief the blood that sits in small cuts on her forehead and elbow. Bruises are already darkening the skin around her eye, cheekbone, and exposed shoulder through the torn jumper.
She was lucky. Argument and burnt cake are forgiven.
‘You’re hard work all right, there’s no doubt about that,’ he jokes. ‘You’d better turn out to be worth it.’
She gazes at him, seeing him afresh for a moment. Almost forty years together, but still he can surprise her.
‘I can’t believe we have to find a way to live through this.’ She pulls at leaves that want to tickle her shoulder. ‘And I am a nightmare.’ A twig is snapped. ’You don’t deserve this.’
A cluster of leaves is wrenched and dropped, with fresh tears.
… To Be Continued…