He’s sitting on the manor front lawn, grass sprinkler damp beneath his fingers and a sunburn staining the pale skin of his nose.

Summer is just ripening into cicada symphonies and sticky breezes, pitchers of lemonade sweating on back porches and record players scratching in sunlit sitting rooms. Something idyllic and something melancholy and nothing at all like the truth; fear lodged in the back of his throat as he barricades his door at night; learns how to prevaricate, to hide, to lie.


She’s familiar. A poem that he has memorised. She’s the blood churning in the roadmap of veins beneath his skin; an itch that he doesn’t quite know how to scratch. And he’s sure that the hold she has over him must be magic, something beyond control and something beyond reason.


He has learned much more than her name. He knows how she takes her tea, learns that there are ink stains perennially suffusing the tips of her fingers and that she can never seem to tap down a laugh. He finds that her favourite colour is celeste, that she keeps a notebook full of quotes and words buried deep in her bag and has a scar on her arm from a childhood accident.


Grief is thick, confusing, drowning.

Its the fissure thin cracks in the pavement that pool with rain, the mottled grey threat of rain clouds hanging overhead. Its the way mud congeals and smears and crusts, moulding itself to the ridged bottom of a boot and sticking. Its the hiss of a train whistle as it spits smoke into the air.