Fiction logo

A Day or So

A single day in a single, long sentence

By Daniel RedfordPublished 25 days ago 10 min read
Like
A Day or So
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

The morning’s orange rays flutter in through the lattice windows and filter through the sheer, black fabric, bounce off the white, once-flat-packed vanity table left by the bay window and onto the freshly painted walls, eggshell-coloured with a hint of rosemary, and our man wakes up on sheets soiled with last night’s conquest and hates the morning already with its luminous alarm call, puts on the well-worn jeans, black as night, matches it with an unpressed, unimpressive, plain white t-shirt, breathes the last remnants of last night’s wake — the salty tears that had mixed with the fancy perfume of the aunties and the acrid aftershave of the grandparents and the plates of leftover food in the kitchen and living room our hero could not bring himself to clear — and he then heads out, throwing open the squeaky front door, remembering to grab the rusting key from the small, tacky bowl kept on a perfectly-level floating shelf beside the door and feels the brisk air brushing over his face, cooling the sweat that had formed on his brow and his cheeks, and already the crippling knot of anxiety that had settled in his core started to ease, to loosen, and his inhales and exhales stopped stuttering quite so much which is something our hero will have to get used to doing on his own, and even he had to admit, despite the absolutely horrendous circumstances surrounding it all, the service had been rather nice, not too religious and much more humanist than any other funerals he had been to before — which is what she would have wanted, given that it was her funeral — and these thoughts fell from our hero’s head as he turned out of the little sidestreet his small flat is nestled on and emerged onto the high street, a place a far cry from the austere trappings of a church’s graveyard, a place where he is much more at home, where he prays day in and day out to no-one or nothing in particular and it is open air, which means he won’t have to feel that claustrophobia that started to grip him yesterday at the service, that overpowering, disempowering feeling of being crushed beneath the enormity of the building, with the crying people and the sad people and the people deep in prayer or remembrance or the children not quite knowing why they’re there but they had to come because their parents had come, parents who were friends of the deceased and the recently-bereaved from university or from the pub or the open-air, high-street ‘church’ our hero now walks down, aimlessly but free, and it is at this ‘church’ — dubbed by him as the ‘Church of Saints, Sinners and Other Broken Figures’ — where he prays and where the congregation congregates from the BabyGAP to Morris and Morris Funeral Planners — the most meticulous morticians this side of the Thames — and at all stops between the BabyGAP and Morris and Morris’s our friend walks, head bowed low to the ground, eyes fixed on his own shoes with the taped-up toes and re-glued heels, eyes fixed on the cigarette butts with the chewed ends and lipstick, eyes fixed on the chewing gum worn out and stuck flat to the sad grey concrete, fixed on the torn-up losing scratch cards the congregants bought with a fistful of coppers, on balled up receipts for minor scraps of food (a far cry from a tasty morsel), on the small metal canisters leftover from the teenage parties that last as long as the moon is up and they stagger the pavements homeward bound, eyes fixed on his own shoes treading those same pavements in a steady beat towards a bench — dedicated to the memory of Our Faithful Saint here erected in the twelfth month of some year — and he sits and he sighs and the ache that had crawled into the balls of his feet starts to radiate outwards, their small, sharp stings a constant reminder of the network of flesh, bone and nerves that snap and fire and fizz from second to second, snap! like the cracks, now healed, on his shin bones and his fingers from a misspent youth scraping to scrape by, fire! like Mister Horace and Mister Leonard and Mister Ahmed and countless other Misters had done when they relieved him of his duties, fizz! like the bubbles on a heated up spoon as his dinner is served up by a strong, sweaty servant in the little den tucked beneath the street, away from the eyes of men and god and memory where the quick fix like fast food falls sloppily and fails to fill, but yes, yes, it fulfils its purpose and the exchange of crumpled notes for this gift is a small price to pay for the snap, the fire, the fizz of nerves and synapses snapping back into place, and here, on a bench on the road from the BabyGAP to Morris and Morris Funeral Planners — the most meticulous morticians this side of the Thames — our man stands and stretches his back and faces northward, forever northward, pulls a slightly moth-eaten woollen cardigan tightly around him — donated to some charity some ways up the High Street between the BabyGAP and Morris and Morris where it sat, untouched, unlooked, unwanted, until it was wanted by our man — and walks, hands in pockets, to the slow, steady, rockingest rock-steady beat of hailstones bouncing on the cold, midday street where the cardboard bed Ol’ Bez puts down begins to show signs of the changing times, getting thinner and thinner, the bed and Ol’ Bez, visibly shrinking day to day within themselves beneath themselves and their own weight, and our man, as he is wont to do, chucks Ol’ Bez a few pence as he sleeps with his half-high head on some Metros and a Tom Clancy book, well-read and dog-eared — the book and the man — and our man thinks that’ll be a nice surprise when he wakes up if he wakes up, and our man carries on carrying on, weaving between the dog shit and yoga pamphlets and the fix, the lunchtime fix, starts to wear off and the gurgling for some more substantial sustenance takes hold and our man, peering through the unwashed windows of the chicken shacks, the jerk fusions, the Lebanese, the pizzerias, the ramen and the dim-sum and the bakery but none of those seemed to tickle his fancy, really create some sensation of desire, awaken some latent, wanton desire — wanton in the archaic sense, as if the feel of the bread or the chicken or the melted cheese with the barbecue sauce dripping from it were a lapdance on his tastebuds, as if the warmth of the pastry would caress his lips and touch his tongue and feel their way inside of him and hold him tight, like an old flame, a lover-for-the-night, some guy or gal just as confused as he is — but nothing tickles his fancy, nothing except a small, pink cupcake, one of those kinds of cupcakes with the blue icing, the pink, crushed sprinkles and the flowery paper hiding the cupcake’s modesty, and he overpays, partly out of local charity, partly because it is gluten-free and he’s just grateful to be catered to, but mainly because the swelling pit of hunger that’s forming in his core needs satisfying and he reckons his body will be thankful for the little sugar boost, just to keep it going, to keep it moving up and down the neverending streets that all converge on one place, his place, which is a curse at this moment in time because he’s reminded of where home is, or where, more accurately, his four small walls are, where the old futon and the worn-out photo albums live, where he exists, but before he gets too deep into the introspection, a car honks its horn and a fist is raised behind a dashboard and some four-word expletives are thrown his way as he stumbles up the curb and holds his hand out in apology, but the guy behind the wheel of one of those newfangled all-electric status symbol vehicles is having none of it and speeds off — silently, because of it being an all-electric status symbol — and as people see our hero step onto the curb, as an elderly lady pushes a shopping trolley (one of those ones with the tartan print wrapped around a metal cube with cheap plastic wheels attached at the base) and sees our man hold his hand up in apology, as a small gaggle of toddlers walking two-by-two hand-in-hand in fluorescent yellow jackets see our man bite down on his tongue to stop some colourful language emerging, as the tired teachers, salivating at the thought of the post-work gin-and-tonic, herd the small gaggle of toddlers in their bright jackets and see our hero step off to one side of the pavement and wipe something from his eye and sigh, he feels their stares on his nape, scratched, red, scarred, signs of a nervous twitch he has, a nervous twitch that would be hidden under a net of long, brown-and-blonde hair in days gone by but is now shown to the world, shorn to the skin in an act of defiance, an act of pseudo-revenge against a lover long gone but not forgotten, more’s the pity, and he is probably kidding himself when he thinks that she misses it or him or the lazy mornings followed by lazy afternoons and even lazier evenings but deep down, somewhere just out of reach, somewhere just far enough away from the superficial veneer of his face and his performance, there’s a growing shred of a thought that tomorrow will be the day when his days turn around, that he will wake up one morning and the pillow beside him will be occupied by the same person who occupied it the night before, and whether or not it is our hero’s heroine it is too hard to tell, and at that moment, as if the world heard his subconscious screaming for a sign, he sees a face that made him double-take, a face that seemed to shine out to him as if under a spotlight, a face that felt comforting and violent, a face with shining, blue-green, iridescent eyes, eyes that when they locked with the dark-brown pools of our hero seemed to linger for a moment, a moment suspended just outside of time, just on the outskirts of eternity, and as the face with those beguiling eyes floated along, just out of reach but firmly locked within his, burning into his retinas and leaving an imprint on his mind, our hero remembered the service and how lovely it was, not too religious, quiet, small and informal, or as informal as a formal event like that could be, and he began to hope for some raindrops to hang in the air, and for the cars and shops and planes overhead and the faint rushing of the sewer waters below the streets that smelled of heating tarmac, for that all to stop, for this to become a timeless moment, but the face with the iridescent eyes moved on and was swallowed in the crowds welling up from the tube station, a sea of suits and suitcases blotting the face out, and our hero, feeling the balled-up cupcake wrapper he had scrunched up into his pocket, crosses the gridlocked road to dispose of it in a bin in dire need of emptying and there, reflected in the sheen of a newly-replaced pane of glass in a newsagents window, he sees the signs of weariness etch themselves into his face, wrinkle the corners of his eyes, weigh his lower lids down in two dark rings, and he wonders how long this weariness has hung upon his face — maybe all day, maybe recently, maybe it never left — and now he gets stares from the other side of the glass, the stare of an elderly man wanting to close his shutters and retire to bed, and this sudden visitor to our hero’s reflection makes him realise his feet had rooted themselves to the high street concrete for longer than he had assumed, and time had come to move him along so he set off, feeling the painful pull of home — or the four small walls he calls a house — half dazed, feeling drunk on the memories that began to trickle into his mind, slowly at first, of the last argument they had in the confines of his four small walls where she was standing at the foot of the stairs that led out into the cold, autumnal, midnight air, smudged makeup in the corners of her eyes that had started to stain the sides of her cheeks, and there came a voice at that moment, at the back of his mind or from behind him, muffled at first but louder, clearer, telling him it’s okay, it was indeed a lovely service and that she’s okay, for the first time in a long time she could say that and not have her frail frame be evidence to the contrary, that she didn’t mean what she said that night, that her baby boy can stop now, can stop blaming himself or the world, and as our hero put one foot in front of the other, blinded by the rapidly-darkening sky and the tear-mist falling across his tired eyes, he finds himself back home after he wandered home through silent streets, sleep says his mother’s voice, and he slides the rusty key into the lock and ascends the stairs, kicks off his shoes, and falls flat on the mattress and there, as the dying, orange rays of the streetlight outside flutter in through the lattice windows and filter through the sheer, black curtains his mother had made him, I fall into a fitful sleep.

PsychologicalStream of ConsciousnessHumor
Like

About the Creator

Daniel Redford

Hello, and welcome to my page!

Creative Writer. Masters Degree. PhD English candidate. Bearded. Fan of purple prose. Wordsmith. Wine-drinker. Life-drifter. Hopeless Romantic. Gamer. That about sums it up.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.