by Daniel Fraser
It was raining, and Wednesday: two things that could only mean sadness. You saw it first. The wall wasn’t driving, obviously. It was being driven; carried on a pickup with a long trailer attached. It looked like old skin, or something discarded by a whale.
“A cloud that’s sick and fallen from the sky.” You spoke first, always able to outdo me.
The lights stayed green. The wall drifted away, slowly squashed into horizon.
“Where were we?” you said, later, in a blue café that sold too many different kinds of smoothie.
“You were … down,” I said, slowly, my head still full of wall.
“We were both down,” you said, staring into foam, face held somewhere between pensive and neutral.
“The wall,” I said, “was grey and covered with sores.” I smiled in a way that said the world is weird and sipped coffee. You stared at your shoes and told me you were moving back home without me. I said nothing but my face said why?
“I feel like I … do things, things for the house, for us. I don’t feel like you do things.” There was a lot of inflection on “do things.”
“I do things,” I said. “I feel like the things I do get forgotten because they’re different from your things. You only think about your things.”
You told me I was being vague. I wanted to scream a word like “hypocrisy” and smash my cup into pieces. I picked my ear and shivered. We were quiet for several minutes. People bought smoothies, mouths sucked and slurped.
“I have stuff too,” I said.
You said “stuff” without inflecting it into a question.
“Like, when I’m sad and I tell you I’m sad. You always tell me you’re sad too,” I said. You were foam-gazing again. Your lips moved a little, then stopped. I carried on. “I just feel that, when someone tells you that they’re sad, you shouldn’t say you’re sad, you should just help them not be sad.” There was an undefined quantity of time where I felt sure I was going to cry. I felt like you and the wall were going away together, building some stupid castle in a world full of sunshine, leaving me alone in the rain. The wall was God and I was nothing. I saw you in a bed made of clouds, pressed tightly to the wall. The fibreglass skin was shining. I hated the wall. I hoped an accident would crush it, the whole thing ruined.
“I’m going now,” you said, and went. The door scooped in a patch of wind. My stomach was empty, sucked out like a smoothie made of darkness. Everything was Wednesday, everything was rain.
Time went. I quit my job and left the city, went north and no longer hated the wall. Now it seemed big and friendly but full of surfaces, structurally unsound. It was something heavy but not-quite real, a place for people to hold onto for a while; then afterwards let go.
Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have featured in LA Review of Books, Aeon, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Rumpus, Litro, Mute, Entropy, and 3AM Magazine, among others. His work is forthcoming in Acumen, Clarion, and Picaroon. Twitter: @oubliette_mag. Website: danieljamesfraser.wordpress.com