The Casualty

The evening’s breath bites at my ears and through my coat as I dash along shadowy streets, wishing I’d asked for the car. When I arrive he’s on our bed trembling, shoes still on, body tight as a curl grub. Jeremy’s voice on the phone had been desperate and small – like these hours past midnight.

I lean against the door, gasping. Jeremy unfurls, eyes red-rimmed. Crimson blood streaks across his shirt.

‘What happened, are you all right?’

‘I didn’t know who else to call.’  A cry slips from his throat and his shoulders shake as more escape.

I take his hand — mine cold, its hold loose. He crushes my fingers.

‘Walked from chambers …for a ch..ange….’ He’s almost incoherent and leans against my breasts, his tie across my lap.

‘What happened?’

In staccato he continues. ‘A car…slammed…into a telegraph pole…thought it was a bomb.’

I jerk my head back at the image, his square jaw and wet face too close.

‘The driver…’ His voice broke. ‘There was blood everywhere so I bolted into a house, grabbed some sheets off a bed—‘

‘A house?’ I ask.

‘The front door was open.’ He wipes his nose with a sleeve, unconscious of the act, and groans. ‘I don’t think she made it.’

I pull at a loose thread in the blanket. ‘The ambulance came?’

He nods, pushing hair from his eyes, and I see the childhood scar at his temple. I hold him, then.

‘Perhaps she did, thanks to you,’ I manage, hoping she’s alive. Thanks to you I have metal screws in my hand.

Jeremy’s tremors lessen and he becomes a dead weight. When I’m sure he’s asleep I begin to disentangle myself.

‘I’m so sorry about everything,’ he whispers in the dark, his arms tightening around me. He reeks of spew and metal – of skin and tears brushed with desperation and shock.

I lie in empty space, my thoughts stripped bare, and force myself not to mould my body to his.

 

Susan Lattwein

This entry was posted in Australian fiction, flash fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Casualty

  1. A fabulous fragment! I’m intrigued to know more – is it part of a longer story?

  2. Hi Annabelle. No, it ended that night. Hope all’s well. 🙂

  3. livelytwist says:

    Loved it. Now I have to imagine, ask questions, and write the ending in my head. 🙂

  4. Thanks Timi. 🙂 Hope you’re keeping well.

  5. elliebleu says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with flash fiction. It always grabs my attention. But your story made me want to read more.

  6. You’re very welcome. Best of luck with your blog!

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