August 26, 2007 at 6:53 am | Posted in writing | 2 Comments
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by Howie

The room was steeped in a stillness broken only by the continuous metronome of the clock on the wall. Fractured light from a partially obscured moon cast pale shapes on the carpet and bleached the colour from the floral walls. The clock glinted in the silvery light, a stark reminder trespassing on the quiescence of pre-dawn. Outside, a faint breeze picked up and shifted the thin branches of the bare cherry tree causing them to tap faintly on the window as if beckoning.
Jack stared down at the slim fingers interlinked with his and gently massaged them. His throat was tight and his mouth a grim line as he cast his dull eyes to the clock, cursing its progress. Julia rested her head against his chest listening to the rhythmic throb of his heart as it beat in time with the clock. Everything was synchronised, a tormenting countdown, unremitting and unforgiving. She brushed a finger across her cheek and smeared the tear away. Her chest ached and her stomach lurched as she felt him shift his weight on the sofa, clasping his fingers ever tighter.
Jack tilted his head and pressed his lips to the crown of her head, closing his eyes and delighting in the perfume of her hair. Thoughts and emotions cascaded through his mind, rushing, whirling and falling over themselves like unruly children, unchallenged and riotous. “I love you,” he whispered.
Julia said nothing.

The low purr of a slowing engine caused them to both catch their breath and Julia sensed his heart rate accelerate. She pressed her lips to his fingers, soaking them with her tears. The muted resonation of a car horn in the darkness made her start. Jack gave a sigh and cast his eyes from the clock to his watch, he was early. Of all days, today he was early.
Gently unfolding her from his embrace he sat forward on the sofa and ran a hand through his hair.
“Have you got everything?” She said, forcing normality into her tone.
Jack gave a nod and stood up, unable to speak.
They walked to the front door where his bag was waiting and he turned to her, cupping her chin in his hand. He gave a tense smile and kissed her fleetingly thumbing away a tear that rolled down her cheek.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too.”
Slinging the bag over his shoulder, he stroked her hair once, running his hand down her arm to clasp her fingers.
“See you soon.” He kissed her again and stepped out into the encroaching dawn. He did not look back.
Julia waited for the sound of the engine to die away before putting her face in her hands and sinking to her knees in the hallway.

– The headlines at 12 o’clock: three British servicemen are killed and more than thirty injured as insurgents detonate a car bomb in Sadr City, a Shi’ite stronghold in north-eastern Baghdad… –

(Howie is one of the best storytellers on the internet.)


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  1. The poem but the thought distilled,
    like an ethereal cognac from the finest of wine . . .

  2. Oops . . . meant that for the post above . . .

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