• Bulb Culture Collective

Fragments of a Lonely Heart by F. E. Clark

She closes the door. Goes to her nowhere place. Burrows in. Finds lines in stories where

friends dwell. Not alone, if only for a while. Daren’t fall asleep—morning will be there,

screaming her name, teeth bared, before she knows it, and she’s not ready. The old house

quietens, and with each turning page she becomes the noisy one. It’s too soon when she sees

grains of light from the gap between the curtains. Slowly the line of animal skulls on the

mantle of the blocked up fireplace begin to appear. Every damn time the light comes too

soon, sneaking in, storming in. Like bad news, a worry, a suspicion, it can’t be, it can’t

be—it’s here.


*


Alone, deep midsummer’s night, she stands at the end of her driveway. The sky is orange and

mauve where it touches the blue hills, clear white up and overhead. The moon isn’t quite full.

She can only see the stars if she looks hard. The bass beat from the disco at the marquee

dance over the hill echoes round the valley. Not invited, she doesn’t know it then but later

finds that no one is ever invited to these country dances—they just turn up. Scents of

honeysuckle and dust are thick in the air. The periodic shouting and laughter of the revellers

jars her. Her hand brushes the cool, hard bone of stag’s antlers at the doorway as she goes

back inside. Later there’s a convoy of cars as folk head home, and finally silence. It’s the

longest day, once she might have made a wish or performed something ceremonial, but she’s

done with grand gestures. She sleeps well into the next day, never knowing if it gets full dark,

telling herself the nights will be drawing in soon.


*


Waiting, she lies flat on her back on the wet grass. She calls the ring of stones her stone

circle. She’s laid a sheep’s skull she found in the field between two of the stones. None of

this belongs to her though, and it’s the remains of a sheiling that they are lying in, not a stone

circle. She only remembered that the Geminids were forecast late in the evening. Blind at

first, full of the television’s brightness and chatter, they stumbled up the hill, tripping over

stones and trying to avoid rabbit holes. Bundled up in layers of wool and waterproofs the

frost only reaches her bare face. Light from the nearby town glows—sulphurous devil fire on

the skyline. Shepherds used to shelter here with their animals long before that glow burned so

brightly. An owl screeches down in the wood, moving fast. Cars rev and roar on the road. Her

eyes aren’t quick enough. Peripheral vision is best, but when they come the Geminids just

fall. No shooting, they drop, silently, without a soundtrack. She counts eleven then turns her

head to look at the moon, reaches out her hand to her companion. He’s seen thirty or forty he

says. He takes off his glove and she feels his warm skin against hers.


First published online by Mojave Heart Review, 2018


It’s rumoured that F. E. Clark is currently writing a novel, living her artist-girl-summer/goth girl autumn, and mourning the ashes of her year-gone paintings. She lives in Scotland. Inspired by nature in all its forms, she tweets photos/diaries her daily-ish walks #FromMyWalk. With a story on the Best Fifty British and Irish Flash Fiction 2019-2020 list, she is a 2x Pushcart, and Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her poetry, flash-fiction, and short stories can be found in anthologies and literary magazines, including: 404 Ink, Matchbook, Retreat West, Cheap Pop, Poems for All, SNACK Magazine, Molotov Cocktail, The Wild Hunt, Spelk, Bending Genres, Kissing Dynamite. Her most recent work is out in: Soor Ploom Press, Micro Podcast, The Eemis Stane, and anthologies about Joan Eardley, and Bob Dylan. More details can be found on her website, www.feclarkart.com, and she tweets intermittently at @feclarkart.

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