The pub woman with tarot cards and antique knives read my palm and predicted an imminent encounter on my love line. I found her haunting out back and she made good on her prophecy. Our breath steamed maroon under the buzzing lamps. Her nightmares were frequent, her body twisted serpentine, wall-scrawls of trauma in parallel lines above the outlet by the corner of the bed. Troubles hooked deeper in perforated minds—damage was the cost of living. Once, she woke as a hurricane, threw on old moleskin and a plastic raincoat, without socks or bra, took my half-used disposable camera and ran. I measured the shed snakeskin she left behind. Maybe the meandering thing would make good broth—a week’s feed on the receipts of love. We reunited in the wet heat of summer. For months, I had searched in long grasses and stodgy pubs while she camouflaged in the backwash. If the pub chatter ping-ponged between the dark-wood booths and bleachy toilet tiles, I knew she and her echo-eating scarves were not there. People remembered the notion of her—a weather pattern, foreign and vex, blowing through. That’s the one, I said. They all shrugged after that. The pub woman found me playing chess in the park, almost run out of pawns. Her loops were sundogs. Taking her for a vision of dehydration, I swore off water. She slept sound beside me. I asked what became of the nightmares. Her grandson was no longer sick, she said, he passed in the night—her flight to Venezuela left on Sunday. I couldn’t imagine she came from anywhere.
Jake is a cancer researcher living in Galway, Ireland. This story is his first published work. Follow his Twitter @JakeMcAwful - or don't, that's okay too.