Flash Fiction: Love Life (and Death) of a Lush, by Sharon Boyle

crosswords I cheat at crosswords. I sneak-peek answers, wanting you to think me clever.  You cheat on me full stop. While you prowl parties for prey, I case the cabinet for gin, watching slit-eyed as you ensnare a stranger – your gaze extreme, your grin gormless. At least your antics are veneered in chic clothes and smarty-pants banter.

Later we lie back to back in bed, our sex life like two ships scuttled every night. You, tell me our love is slim, skinny, skeletal. I, now semi-sober, swallow over hurt and caw about choosy beggars.

At least we didn’t strap on the joke yoke of parenthood.

We are a grafted, poisoned tree, our tissues intertwining, twistedly dependent. At the breakfast table our booze-blotched faces reflect one another’s excesses. You sit slumped, a cartoon of your youthful self; I shuffle round the kitchen like a snipped-stringed puppet.

At least our looks are equally ravaged.

I want you to go first. Can’t bear you to party on without me. I will kiss the etched Much Missed, and finger trace the grooves of Deeply Beloved, knowing you are wrapped up like a wooden parcel, waiting. And when I die, my coffin will be laid on yours, like a macabre bunk bed, slowly pressing down till we powder puff into one, our bones rattling a connection.  I’ll leave instructions for the sod to be soaked with gin, the alcohol seeping down to our gaping grins.

At least in death there won’t be any cheating or cross words.

***

Sharon Boyle lives in East Lothian and writes around her family life and part-time job. She has had a number of short stories and flash pieces published on-line and in magazines, and won first prize in the HISSAC short story award and the Exeter Writers short story comp. She always wanted to be an astronaut but lack of fitness, brains, and skills put paid to that. She tweets as @SharonBoyle50 and has a blog.


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