Grief – A Novel Extract

Grief.It’s a tricky thing grief; mischievous and cruel. You know it’s there but it sneaks up on you with reminders that cut into the everyday and sideswipe any feeling of normality. Not that there is normality anymore, that’s impossible. It’s impossible because the world is so very full of reminders. That brand of coffee. A book you once loved. A film you definitely would have liked but will never see. Your favourite breakfast cereal. The street you crossed at an angle to press your nose to the glass of the shop window. A backless vintage dress; the kind you always coveted. One of your hairpins faltering in the gap between the floorboards. Mustn’t let it fall down into the blackness forever.

Grief is both fast and slow. Fast like iron pellets from a slow-motion blunderbuss that rip into your chest; you can see the spread of them coming but are unable to prevent them crashing through your skin and slipping between your ribs to squash your lungs like balloons in a vacuum tube. Chest so tight your breathing is gasps. The rusty pellets joining together like liquid metal and forming a boa constrictor corset around your diaphragm. Drowning in the open air, while all around you smile.

Grief can be slow too. The sucking mud of the green-edged salt-marsh that clings thigh-deep to your wellingtons, preventing any movement however hard you pull. You reach as hard as you can to pluck the fresh samphire but never do. Others trip lightly across the surface happily filling their baskets with succulent greenery. As if you had been transported to a world with much larger mass and hence, much greater gravity. You, having been born on onto the honeycomb lightness of Earth where it’s easy to feel the sugary spring in your heels, struggle against your own oppressive weight. On this new planet the very air heaves you down and its inhabitants bounce past with ease; those lucky people who were born here and have no troubles to press their shoulders. You know you shouldn’t but you hate their cheeriness. How dare they be happy?

In this world the only escape is sleep; the physical need of it overwhelming. But sleep too is an illusion; an illusion of escape. For in those early hours of dreaming it can seem as if it isn’t true. A delicious fiction where your loved one isn’t gone and they speak to you with honeyed nonsense as they drip their love over you. But, in these dreamscapes, beware the traps and signs. You get lost together, panic rising as you turn the corners of the hedging maze, or as you step onto the wrong escalator in the endless shopping mall. And then she is lost, around the corner, beyond that tangle of shoppers.

Lost. Always lost.

Eyes open, back to the awful trudge of mud that is a new day.

And then there is guilt. The worst of the reminders. Guilt that you laughed, even if it was simply a polite nodding laugh in company. Guilt that you lost yourself in a novel and forget her. Guilt when you found yourself staring at the curves of the woman in culottes by the river. Shame when she smiled at you and you found thoughts of lust unbidden swamping your body. 

The frustration of it all brings anger. Overwhelming bitter anger. How could you leave me like this?

And that’s it really. I won’t let you leave me like this.  


© 2015 Simon Poore

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