Welcome to Issue Nine of LossLit Magazine.
We’re at the exile’s restaurant on Broadway, the one with darkened windows in the same building as the ornate cinema, and the owner comes out with his slicked down hair and his crisp suit, and he smiles at my father and at me. I am holding my father’s hand, and the owner ruffles my hair and says hello, and in German he welcomes my father. And we go inside, so that my father can tell me about the place that he can never return to.
Nothing was like it was supposed to be that day. Mummy walked into my class while Mrs. Ganley was taking attendance. She did not even look at me. She whispered to Mrs. Ganley, who got up from her desk and hugged her. I wondered what had happened ‘cause Mummy usually stayed in the sofa bed all day in her nightie. Having babies made her sick and I stayed home from school a lot to help her. She would tell the teacher I was sick, but I knew that I wasn’t. On that morning Mummy was up and wore shoes that clicked on the floor. She didn’t look sick at all.
Gardening tired grit in your eyes, three
tiny spiders in your hair from cutting shrubs
three feet over your head because you haven’t
cut them for three years. There are three cuts
The Grandfather clock in the hallway began to chime, as usual, just as he entered the sitting room with the tray. On the ninth bong he placed it carefully down on to the crochet doily which covered the nest of tables. He lifted the pot and poured the liquid in to her cup. The bone china rattled as he put the saucer in her hands. Mother liked her tea weak.
Margot and I have been friends since we were ten, when we wore jumpers two sizes too big and fat little ties, which were supposedly cool. We phoned each other most nights. We often ran out of things to say but it wasn’t a problem. We would lie on our separate beds in our separate houses and listen to each other breathing. Friendship meant something different to us then. When I see her, my insides slide as though I’ve taken a step and left my body behind. We hug. She smells strange; earthy and sweet at the same time.
My father was similar to one of those smooth, flat pebbles discovered on a shingle beach amongst the many uneven ones, standing out from all others, a temptation for the stone-skimming child that I was. With arm stretched taut beside my child’s body and then a wide swing full of expectation, I would hold my breath, watch eagerly for the three or five water-skips, only to be disappointed as the stone jumped but once, then slipped leadenly out of sight and under the sea, where it would await an incoming tide and eventually be returned to the shore.
perfect containers for us to float
on a sea of stories
Have you ever found yourself on a train platform, enjoying a coffee in the peaceful post-rush-hour morning? Alone, or you were, until someone else joined you. That person who has wandered up the empty platform to stand within your personal space, perhaps to remind you that they can have some small power over a stranger. Even if it’s only the power to spoil a small singular moment of comfort before the rush of everything smothers you. Like a wasp that stings you in the split-second before you get hit by a truck.
In watery September daylight, the house is a dishevelled hyena, with an ivy fringe and a gaping mouth. Animals that hunt in packs always give her shivers, from nature documentaries watched in childhood behind pillows to flat reproductions in Biology textbooks. Something about ganging up on a creature, the planning that involves.