Coming in from the Cold

It’s been a year, she says to herself, as if she could forget.

The day has been pleasant enough. Phone calls to her children and grandchildren. Visitors from the street with kind words. A small bunch of balloons released in the garden.

Simple but exhausting.

***

Somewhere not far away, a gravestone rumbles. Two hands stretch from the earth, followed by an attached corpse, climbing out of the dirt.

It staggers out of the cemetery, stinking and damp.

***

She tidies up the kitchen, puts flowers in a vase. Homemade cakes and cards will wait until morning. Opening the fridge she instinctively goes for the milk, to prepare a late night drink.

Years of practice, now going to waste.

She switches off all the downstairs lights, and turns in for the night.

***

The figure wanders into the road.

An oncoming car narrowly misses him, clipping his thigh at thirty miles per hour. It spins him round, fragments of his leg carried away by the vehicle, forever staining the paintwork.

He grunts – part laugh, part choking on his own fluids.

***

She climbs into bed, simple but exhausting, thinking how she will feel one year on from today.

***

The figure reaches the front door. A small trace of its former self kicks a gnome to one side, and takes a key from underneath.

Inside the house it slips across laminate, trips over the cat who sniffs at his ankles, who licks at his meat.

He takes a glass, and milk from the fridge, before going into the front room, and sitting in the chair where no-one else sits.

***

She wakes from an unpleasant dream.

Downstairs she hears noises – the cat miaowing, items falling on the kitchen floor, the television playing, groans and squelching from the lounge.

Not sure if she is still in her dream, she puts on her dressing gown and goes downstairs

***

Hello, this is 911. What is your emergency?

This conversation continues, their favourite television program, american real life crime, reenacted in dramatic detail.

She reaches across from her armchair and takes his hand, making sure not to grip too tightly, conscious that his form lacks cohesion. Maggots fall onto the carpet. Specks of his skin float across the glare of the television.

On the nest of tables, between the two armchairs, are two glasses of milk, just before bedtime.