a haibun for the night before, which hangs above the bed like a ghost.
Don’t open your eyes. Stay like that; with small clouds that linger above. A blanket has settled in on the street. I think about stuffing pillows into your ears. A hollow absence of traffic. The radiator’s face grins with blue. I don’t remember turning it on. The air warms, but not enough. I wait. The house is smothered. Roaring silence outside; the light pushes at the window. I’m not sure about last night. Whatever happened is buried now. You are lying flat, eyes closed, facing the ceiling. I sit on the edge. My head goes through the curtain gap. It’s a wedding; a ceremony. The drifts reach the top of the garden wall. They slump across the bonnets of cars, slung there like too many fur coats. Wads of it pad the roofs of the houses; my teeth itch with a cotton wool memory. The road relents to the pavement; it’s all the same now. There are pockmarks where a cat has been, a sharp pain at the thought of its cold feet sinking; re-sinking. My breath drapes the air. You roll onto your side, reach around for your glasses—a lighter—breath becomes smoke. The outside illuminates you. It’s too early in the year for this, you say. Your face is pinched. This isn’t right, you say. I nod. My face is reflected in the grime of the window, blotched with yesterday’s makeup. Trains won’t be running, I say. Yeah, you say. I won’t be able to get home. A sparrow hops and sinks, then flurries away; mute. I wonder how else I could get you to stay, without saying it out loud. But your clothes are on, fluttered over your head while I wasn’t looking. I’ll have to walk, you say. Or you can stay, I say—too faintly—but you’re already out of the door. An apparition As you scuff up the softness Kicking it away.
Claire Carroll lives in Somerset, UK, and writes about nature, technology and desire. She has recently completed a collection of linked short stories about climate anxiety, existential dread and the female gaze. In 2020, her stories made their way onto the longlist for the Cambridge Short Story Prize and the shortlist for the Wells Short Story Prize. Other recent pieces have been published in Perhappened's HEATWAVE edition, as well as Lunate Fiction, Writers HQ and Reflex Fiction. Twitter: @c_crrll.