November 2019

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I've always had a short fuse and it gets shorter the longer I'm in this job. I used to shoot first and ask questions later. Now I just keep shooting and don't ask anything at all. It doesn't matter what put me on this road and it's too late to turn back. 

- - - - -

As children, we ran laughing through the wheat fields, thinking only of adventure, never of crop yield, cost or profit. The older we get, the more we start to see our playgrounds through the eyes of necessity, and the more joy becomes a stranger.

- - - - -

The power went out at 11.11pm, stealing the streetlights' haze and the windows' glow. We left our dark house and whispered down the road, hand in hand, imagining ourselves in years before life travelled through wires and flickered in bulbs.

- - - - -

Tread carefully, not because the ice is thin or the water deep, although both these things are true. Walk softly, because something has learned to protect this place from us and it listens, always, for footsteps that threaten the silence.

- - - - -

I dream of arms to crush my throat closed, hands to twist my neck broken, but I'd settle for a knife sharp enough to puncture my lung and leave before I even taste blood, compromising intimacy for efficiency.

- - - - -

This is the trap we're pushed into, believing the villains are trolls under bridges, wicked queens in castle towers, or dragons hoarding gold. Instead, our hearts harden quietly in the cold hands of "I don't believe you" and "It's your fault".

- - - - -

No victory march. No cold and broken hallelujah. Just another scab I pick and peel, another cut I don't let heal. Another reminder of your skin under my fingernails, replaced with my own. Another pale imitation of need.

- - - - -

The wind  follows orders, whipping the sea into chaos and trailing dark clouds across a sky that begs for a storm. He stares through his reflection in the window until thunder rolls and his eyes weigh closed. Destruction, his bliss and his calling.

- - - - -

I put my tools on the table, where you can see them. "You should really tell me the truth now. This is not a drill." Just my little joke. Of course it's a drill. And a hammer. And a nail gun. You probably don't find it as funny as I do though.

- - - - -

Hail pounds  the roof like a herald of the apocalypse and you stand outside, barefoot and statuesque, laughing with ice in your eyelashes. I call your name, but you're too caught up in challenging the rage of winter. And again, I can't take my eyes off you.

- - - - -

He drones on, oblivious to how close I am until I pluck a hair from the back of his head.

"What the..?"

"There was a bug on you." There wasn't. There's a bug in his house though. And now I have a hair with follicle intact for the DNA test.

- - - - -

We still listen to jive music and reminisce about our past. The drink, the drugs, the stolen cars, the way a kneecap shatters under a hammer, the way a hand comes off with one strong drop of an axe. Memories become stories no-one believes.

- - - - -

We can bust each other's faces all we want, but it's never going to fix anything. We fight so hard against outsiders, enemies, the imagined 'them', that we don't see no-one's winning. You can't see anything with blood in your eyes.

- - - - -

1. The refrain  of a song that felt like a message
2. one more book in the series
3. I'd probably fuck it up anyway

(Reasons I put the pills back in the bottle this time)

- - - - -

We spent our first datecomparing battle scars. You talked about the device, not the weapon, that left them. Friendly euphemisms make things no less dangerous, and for the first time in a long time, a conversation didn't feel like a competition.

- - - - -

The leather of your coat wrapped around me and the cold of your hands in my hair. The mint of your kiss and the vapour of our breath between us. An empty street gently cradling a memory frozen and tied up in shivers. A future promised. Promises kept.

- - - - -

Years may loom ahead, an uncertain future, a challenge, a wall. Your past, your fears, may weigh you down, or you can stack them, one on top of the other, to build a staircase. You can always rise. You can always climb.

- - - - -

Slash of lightning, crash of thunder, lash of rain against the window. The phone rings. Mother. I let the machine pick up.

"Hello, sweetheart. We're looking forward to seeing you for dinner on Sunday. The prisoners are almost fattened up enough."

- - - - -

I know 'strike while the iron's hot' is for blacksmiths, but it's useful advice in general. If you break into someone's house while they're dealing with laundry, you get what you get. And if the iron's hot enough, your melted skin will wipe off quite easily.

- - - - -

We go one better than a handshake. We hug. I slip the pills into his pocket and he slides the cash into mine. It's just a deal, but for a moment it feels like something more. I need some non-transactional physical contact. This job's turning me cold. 

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