by Frances Donnelly
There’s a froth that doesn’t come from rivers or the sea or from washing, it comes from a man’s head, and whilst that man is dying, the froth is coming alive. I watch the froth grow, sliding cunningly out of the cracks in the man, and then I lick at the froth.
There is a cup in our house that is my favourite. It has a yellow duckling on it holding an umbrella, saying ‘Quacking in the Rain!’. Everyone at home knows it’s the one I have my tea in. Little considerations like this keep us going, my mum says.
There’s a man who lives at the end of my road. He has a big smile and dark brown eyes. He wears shorts a lot and has very thick hair on his legs. I’d really like to kill him.
There’s a certain feeling I get when a man’s dying, it’s a really nice feeling. The feeling starts high up then spreads all over. They call this feeling ecstasy. The best feeling possible. What wouldn’t you do for this feeling? I feel so appreciative when the feeling is coming up that I often say thank you to the man. But once it has risen I don’t feel grateful at all, I feel godlike, and ideally I don’t go home until I’ve calmed down, because it makes me act rude. “Giddy arrogance”, my mum calls it.
There’s a great view if you walk up the hill near my house. My bedroom is perfect, but it’s small, so I like to take walks in bigger open spaces. Our town is broad and flat so I can see right across it, from an elevated position. I climb up through the scrubby grass and stand and look out, gaining perspective. Usually the hill is empty, but today there is a man there, looking at the view. He smiles at me.
“Your head is full of bubbles,” I say, smiling back. I know he can’t hear me, because I’m stood quite far away, and the wind is pulling at our hair, flapping our jackets.
My mum used to tell me this, before I found out for myself. “A man’s head,” she would say, “is full of bloody bubbles.”
The man has a broad face and dark eyes, and looks a bit like the man who lives down my road. He steps towards me, slowly. I think maybe he is a teacher at one of the other schools. He’s dressed like a teacher. I imagine him naked. Thick and walnut coloured. I shiver.
He glances around nervously to check we are alone. He moves close. “I like these kind of days,” he says, looking out over the view. “People say a grey sky is boring, but to me it’s the most real sky of all. The right sky for the town.”
See? Bubbles. I smile and point my eyes at the sky. I let my hair whip around in the wind. I squint. I can feel him looking, deciding. The nice feeling is coming now. Like I am calling it over the hills.
“You – you come up here often?” he asks.
I look down at my feet, still smiling. Then I lift my chin and nod.
“Me too,” he says. He is quiet for a while but soon he’ll speak again. I wait and watch the clouds unwinding themselves, spreading thinner and thinner, breaking apart in the too-wide sky.
Frances Donnelly is a writer and experimental musician who lives in Brighton, UK with five rescue rats and one human partner. She works for left-wing activist organisations as a digital wordnerd. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.