So here’s a thing, a draft thing. I’m not sure who the characters are; I can probably guess their ages, but not genders as yet, but I know they’re close to each other. It’s been a long time since I’ve written any long prose; it’s a bit like being drunk or lost; easy to fall into; harder to get out.
The hearth is warm stone; made so by the passage of years, each autumn in its turn, every fire that we left to burn overnight. The dog grate is new, or relatively so, pock marked only by a little rust, a year or two of spring rains falling hard through the uncapped chimney. Its metal feet sit less than square against the mortared joints of the flags.
You’re not far away; the heart-beat irregular lick of the flames begins against charcoal embers. Beneath the grate is clean, carefully so. As you started the fire you stood here, leaving behind a few leaves from the dark garden, trapped now beneath the coal bucket; extra random reds against this year’s rag rug. These scents followed you in; sunshine against October damp, pruned apple wood, thick grease from the gate.
Over the chair hangs the green camouflage jacket that we’ve both worn at different times. In the left pocket there will be jute from the garden. My hands remember the harsh thread; the days spent waiting for your return; my fingers busy making hard, unstructured knots. There will be cigarettes in the inside pocket, yours, from the spring. Half hidden in a mutual deception as to how much you still smoke.
There’s not much of my tour guide work remaining now; just the Saturday mornings. This has left my reading to slide into an untidy heap; periodicals and books; occasional newspaper clippings. It will wait now for the cold nights. You’ve left the post on the chair. Unopened. I see a bill and some stupid circulars.
They go, where they live, on the kitchen side but avoiding a small run of condensation from the kettle. Beads of water grow on the white metal finish. By it the old pyrex bowl holds batter, the sugar jar sits by it, my favourite pan is shiny with melted butter. And I know you’ve gone out for oranges.