- Vol. 05
- Chapter 12
The Third Thing
The noise was the first thing:
the slam of the door, wood bashing wood;
the crash of the keys splaying on the table like a shot antelope;
the lazy scuff of his boots across the stone.
His bellow: ‘Woman!’
And then there was the silence – which was us – on the other side of the wall that he built.
I remember the whirr as the belt swiped through still air, and the snap as it made contact, momentarily curling underneath my belly like a comforting arm as if to say sorry.
On her body, pink worms and crimson roses too sore to touch.
And, through eyes brimful of tears, a kitchen which should have been the heart of the home, blurring to earthy tones and echoing with heartbreak.
He broke me.
And now only darkness gets in.
My chest ticks like a time bomb and in my gullet is a clod of mud as I lead the blind man across the rocks by the hand. His dinner suit has lost its sheen. His fly gapes. His sulk hangs unchallenged.
The husky rub of his soles and the hard pits of his fingertips in my flesh serve as nudges of encouragement.
‘How far?’ His gurgling voice is swallowed by the landscape.
‘Not much further. It’s just over there.’
‘Someone should...’ – he rattles and wheezes – ‘... get this… path… levelled.’
The silence is deep. The sky goes on forever.
I shine my phone and stop short, just in time. I release his hand. It swings like an aborted pendulum.
The Third Thing‘Jack? Jack! Why’d you let go? I’ll fall. Help me.’
I raise the beam so I can watch. ‘It’s all right, Pa. I’m just here. I’m reaching out. Take my hand again.’
I smirk as he grasps at nothing.
He slides his foot ahead and reaches further. ‘Jack!’
Bit by bit, he edges forward, then he’s gone.
I draw in a lungful of night air, smell the ancient dust, feel the unencumbered space, become the darkness.
This silence is peaceful, not fraught because of contained emotion and unspilled tears. Serene.
I try to illuminate him at the bottom of the chasm. If only he could see the beautiful sky above him.
Now he’s broken too.