Begin with a scratch to the scalp, an insidious itch that won’t lessen no matter how quick or deep nails press down.
With each carving stroke take white flesh away under fingernails, strips and crusts of grit and oil, crumbling like soft white chalk.
The black of blood set in scab, pick that away, the crust of crème brulee, nails cutting down through hard, finding wet rose soft beneath— make it fall loose with a hair or two, root embedded, stem asway, and go again— scratching become a gouging dig, bringing with it the softest sting.
Wake and see what you’ve done to yourself.
Her voice carries down the stairs on the beams of breaking day— a tentative “Mam?” hangs a chime, followed by a longer, more impatient “Maaa–aaam?!”
No hint of panic there, just a slender note of slight concern. She calls for a scatter of minutes. Words fail to sharpen into full impatience.
(She knows what her mother is like.)
Finally; the dull thud of stair ascension and the opening door—her mother, come from cooking breakfast, bringing a cloud of distraction with her (and a greasy spatula.)
Mrs Kane. Small and vaguely square, about as tall as she is broad— her disordered hair still bears a hint of auburn; pinned in place lopsided, showing the nub of an ear. Her eyes are bright and grey, her mouth nestled in a soft collection of chins. “Did you call me honey?” and there’s an uncertain warble in her voice, “What do you need?”
Grainne Kane, sitting up in bed, holds her hands in the light between curtains. “Look,” she says.
Dry, deep red— her blooded fingertips.
“What did you do?” her mother squeaks, and there’s the note of panic.
“My scalp,” says Grainne, calm as standing water, “I woke. It was itchy. Must’ve been scratching when I was asleep.” She takes a strand of hair and runs it through pinched fingers. “I think my hair is thick with it.”
Black grit rolls between finger and thumb.
“Can you have a look for me?
“Okay,” says her mother, mouth in queasy downward curve, “Sit in the light.” Grainne pulls herself from bedsheets, perching in slanted yellow. The spatula is placed on the desk.
Abandoned, it makes homework transparent.
Grainne inclines to show her scalp. Standing by the bed, the same height as her seated daughter, Mrs Kane parts her hair— she gives a little start and squeak.
“What’s wrong?” says Grainne, her voice the flat of unconcern, “What can you see?”
“You have…” but words glue the gaps between her teeth and perish there. She parts hair again, her voice a barely-worded breath— “Love, there’s a… hole.” She looks again. “I can see…”
She stands on tiptoes. Grainne winces with the soft prodding work of fingerpads. “It goes down quite a bit…”
Grainne lifts her hand to test the depth herself. “Don’t pick,” snaps her mother and takes her wrist away for her. Mrs Kane looks into parted hair for long minutes. “Does it hurt?”
Grainne Kane shakes her head. “It stings a little. But not often, and not for long.”
Mrs Kane makes a tuttering noise. “You’ll need to get it checked. It could easily get infected.”
“You always worry,” says Grainne, deciding, “We’ll give it a day and see if it gets better. If it doesn’t, we’ll go then.”
Her mother frowns.
“Oh! The breakfast.”
She is gone.
Grainne Kane was a serious girl. Her black hair held in ponytail, revealed the sculpt of freckled cheekbones. Tall, her neck was long, her shoulders slender, her arms and fingers elegance tapered.
She loved words—
She knew her nose was retroussé.
That there was a hint of gamine about her.
That her eyes was glaucous.
She wrote stories she showed to no-one, stories that were just for her.
Reflecting her world back to her.
Making it mean what she wanted.
Days go by.
At first a smile each morning: “Don’t worry Mam, I think it’s getting better.” but in the night restless dreams, mornings with fingernails painted red. Mornings with them still wet.
She washes them, she clips them.
But there are still mornings when hairstrands curl on sheets.
She sweeps them into her palm and flushes them away.
She takes to washing her bedclothes herself.
And when one morning her questing finger finds no bottom to the hole she’s scared to touch again for days.
Her mother, seeing her paleness, the thinning of hair, asks “It’s not getting better, is it?”
And Grainne shakes her head.
Who knows what she might shake loose?
Today she is walking home from school.
Alone, or wanting to be at least— discretely, at a distance but keeping pace, he is following her.
At the gate he tried to talk to her: “Gra,” he said, “Gra.”
But he couldn’t turn those sounds to words and she was past him before he could try again.
She crosses the road and behind her he is crossing too and she spins and flings the words at him: “What do you want, Podge Keanely?”
He stops, looking like he’s been slapped.
Podge Keanely— so blonde his hair is the colour of flesh, his eyebrows mere suggestions. The school uniform, bought for its girth, throws sleeves over his little hands, trousers rucking up over shoes.
Most days he waited for her after school. He was nice enough, when he spoke, but she never felt a pressing need to talk to him.
He takes a step towards her and points. “You have,” he says, “You have.”
She feels it down the centre of her forehead. Thin and warm.
She is bleeding again.
Hands up to edges, a thumb to brush the blood away.
She leaves him on the pavement.
She runs home.
Sitting on her bed. A blossom of tissue dabbing.
She’s coming apart.
Every night picks and scratches go deeper. She wakes, catching herself in the act, feeling something break away in the dark.
She sleeps on her hands. She ties a cloth around her head. No use— even in sleep she can outsmart herself
Soon she is pulling handfuls out.
Red, wet handfuls.
Material stains her pillow.
In horror she stares at discoloured hands, wondering:
Where is the pain?
Shouldn’t this hurt?
“Mam,” she says, an unknown shake entering her voice. “I think we need to get the doctor.” The tissue tears to shreds in her hands.
“I’m scared to sleep.”
“I wake with my hands full. My bedclothes destroyed.”
“The itch comes back and I can’t stop it.”
Dr Proutfot examines her, brusquely turning her head with a thumb.
There are dark rings under her eyes. Her cheeks have sunk, losing their colour. She hasn’t slept for days.
He grunts with satisfaction when he sees the depth and width of the hole she has picked. He can almost get four bullet fingers in.
“Good girl,” he says, withdrawing.
Grainne can’t get the taste from her mouth— he smells like uncomfortable, old-fashioned sofas and brown stained wallpaper, a space ill-lit by heavy-shaded lamps.
Proutfot a pallid jelly of a man, something dripped from half-cooked ham and left to set; glasses solely for looking over stern. His questions are blunt: Diet. Sleep patterns. Exposures to chemicals, animals, people.
Her answers don’t satisfy him.
The examination over, he doesn’t bother revealing his findings but packs his stained equipment, nods a curt whatever at her and goes.
Mrs Kane follows him onto the landing. She catches him by the arm, words coming down through ultrasonic: “You haven’t said, you haven’t told us what’s wrong, what she needs—”
He snatches money from her hand. “A specialist,” says Proutfot, stuffing €50 in his waistcoat pocket. He passes her and descends, stairs groaning with having to bear him down.
“But but—” she stammers and halfway down he stops, turning to fix with eyes of a weary sow, “Suppose I’ll have to arrange that won’t I?”
Softly, slowly, she nods.
He makes a pantomime harrumph.
Down the rest of the way goes Dr Proutfot, “I’ll bill you the remainder,” a gruff addendum. He slams the front door.
When Mrs Kane re-enters the bedroom, Grainne is sitting cradling her face. Sentences, cold and dry, trickling between digits: “It’s hollow isn’t it? I’ve picked and picked at it and now there’s nothing left.”
The hands go and reveal her eyes.
She’d let herself cry a tear or two with her mother out of the room.
Mrs Kane’s mouth opens, a thumbhole in pudding.
“He said I should be dead,” whispers Grainne, “That’s what he told you, didn’t he?”
Mrs Kane pulls her face into a slack and cowish smile that seeks to comfort, but her eyes remain restless uneasy, unable to hold any one thing. She sits by Grainne, taking her head to lay upon her lap.
Pursing into shush, she whispers, “He said you’ll be fine. Just rest. Eat well. You’ll be fine.”
Avoiding the wound.
Words that softly move the flesh of thighs: “Did he say what was wrong with me?”
Creative lies do not come easy for Mrs Kane and when seconds pass stunned and wordless she bleats “Why should it matter? Why should it?”
Stroking the lips of the wound faster.
“You’re getting better, that’s what counts.”
A daughter hugged in meaty arms.
“We don’t have to have a name for it.”
Hugged and held on to.
They wrap the wound with sterile bandages, layered around the forehead, slowly mummy-rolled from chin to crown. They can’t hide the flatness where the crown has been worn away, that shallow dip that shows how deep the hollow has gone.
Between the bandages, poking like voles from undergrowth, the only hair remaining— wisps of black on her temples.
She looks in the mirror. “I don’t feel sorry for myself,” she whispers, “I don’t feel sorry for myself.”
She won’t be argued with.
“It’s wrapped in cloth,” she says, “It’s pinned in place. I’m going to school. I’ve made up my mind.”
A picture to end on: Mother in the doorway, watching Grainne walk the road. Head held high.
Strong enough for both of them.
It happened during Donkey Conroy’s geography class.
Gareth Hanway, dared by his grinning clique, stalked to where Grainne sat at a desk alone. He lifted his finger and, tensed to spring from her admonishment, brought it down lightly on her bandages.
When it produced no effect, save for the slight drumming sound, he turned to his friends and they shook their hands for go on! Mouthing the words— Go on! Go on!
He tapped her harder on her bandages. Grainne did not move. He grinned around his protruding tongue with tension, then took a breath, and wincing viper-vicious brought his hand down for slap—
The bandages parted.
His hand went in.
All the way in.
His hand was red.
The bandages were red.
The open back of her head was red.
She hadn’t felt a thing— only with the screaming did she learn something was wrong. She turned in time to see Gareth Hanway empty in beige upon the floor and fall in it
She the centre and all the children in the round with hollowed faces mere rims about their screaming gaps.
Not Podge Keanley; alone he looked at her without disgust and terror.
Even Conroy balked as he redid red bandages, coughing to keep the retching down. With that done he dismissed the class.
For long moments she sat, numb, as all around children looked through windows at her. Then she gathered her things and pushed past Podge, leaving him with hand raised, a gurgled “Gra” following her down the corridor.
She arrives home to find her specialist waiting.
Professor Glynn— a short man, his beard the black and white of toppled condiments; he wore metal-framed glasses that needed a clean, a dark brown suit and vivid green socks.
He shakes hands with Grainne, holding on a tad too long, “Pleasure,” he says, eyes roving the disordered scarlet bands that bind her.
“Two sugars,” he says to Mrs Kane and takes Grainne to her bedroom. “We’ll be more comfortable there,” he says with a wink, “I’ve got a lot of questions for you.”
Mrs Kane follows stepping careful in case she spills. “Will you wait outside?” asks Glynn and the cup is taken from her.
Slowly she nods, a calf beginning to doze.
The door is closed.
With a hand Glynn crowds a bundle of clothes off a chair and sits. “We don’t need Mum for our little interview. And you, my lady, need that hole in your head…”
He winks again.
“Like a hole in the head.”
His high girlish laugh reminds her of thumbs tickling between ribs and the eyebrows of her uncle arching.
“Now. First things first, I want to get a good look at… our little friend. Do you mind?”
“No,” says Grainne softly. In the mirror she watches herself being unwrapped, watches slow scarlet gauze unlooping.
“What are you a professor of?”
“History, says Glynn, letting a chill length fall on her shoulder, “The explanation of patterns. Why and how things happen. Cause and effect.”
Revealing the hole, he takes a breath. “My. My. Look at you,” and he pinches the rim where bone gives way to depths red and black.
“What university are you with?”
Gently he runs his finger along the rim of her scalp making her wince.
“I’m… between universities at the moment,” says Professor Glynn. “Freelance. I’m going to take some photographs. You don’t have to smile.”
He pats her bed and she kneels, inclining her head the way he wants.
“Now look at me. Look straight at me.”
The vice principal was waiting for Grainne at the school gate. He was kind. It hadn’t been her fault, no-one was blaming her, but her classmates, well…
He grimaced and rolled his eyes.
They had been traumatised.
Perhaps, he had said, it would be easier, for everyone, and he nodded at her, iiiif.
“Just as a short-term measure, you understand.”
He pouted and wagged his finger.
“And I’m only thinking of your health. If you stayed.”
Air quotes for the next two words: “‘At Home.’”
Arrangements would be made, then a hand on her shoulder turned her back towards the street.
Returning with her mother achieved nothing. She took the vice-principal’s hand and pleading, refused to let go. “Not her fault,” he repeated, extricating, “No blame.”
He gave them his best smile.
“Won’t this way be easier for everyone?”
The arrangements: Phone calls with teachers every second day.
Schoolwork ferried between home and school.
Podge Keanley, the only volunteer.
“Well, Grainne,” says Glynn, “Good news and bad news.” He puts down the clipboard and rests his hands upon his knees. “Ah…” he licks his lips. “Would you like me to get your mother?”
“No,” says Grainne, “Tell me.”
“Are you sure?”
He leans towards her, hands clasped . “Do you know what an allegory is?”
She narrows her eyes and lays down like a trump card her withering “Yes. A message or a story in symbols. Things meaning other things.”
Glynn shudders and a long low breath comes. “Grainne, you…” Transports of ecstasy cross his face. “Oh Grainne, my dear, you’re becoming an allegory.”
He takes her hand. “It’s earthing in you. The centre and the symbol. I’ve seen it happen. I could fill anthologies. This town in particular, attracts story like… like a child to a flame.” His high laugh in that small space— knives on tile taking an age to fade.
He smiles at her, smiles and smiles and she pulls her hand away.
“What does that mean for me?”
“Nothing can harm you. Not until the allegory achieves conclusion.”
He squirms in his seat. “I’ll get your mother—”
“Tell me,” says Grainne Kane, “She won’t know the word.”
“You’ll probably… at that point… I haven’t come across an allegory that doesn’t… ah… kill…”
She looks at him.
He tries to giggle his way through discomfort. “The allegory will have served its purpose. The lesson will be learned.”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
“To watch it come down.”
“See it shape.”
“And you’ll stop it,” says Grainne Kane, “You’ll stop it?”
The light catches his dirty lenses and she cannot see his eyes.
Still she scratches.
Drastic measures: they strap her hands down, cut her nails and pack her fingertips in cotton and when she uses a fork to scratch and gouge, they unwrap and reset and make it so she can’t grip, can’t hold.
Grainne Kane sits in bed and must be fed.
Her mother sits and smiles and feeds her soup.
“Open wide,” she says.
Glynn, by her bed with clipboard, tracking down the allegory, leading her along with questions:
“Pastimes? What are your interests? Any you’d describe as particularly vacuous?”
She shakes her head.
“Do you have many close friends Grainne?”
She shakes her head.
“They shun you because you’re cleverer than them?”
“I don’t think so.”
Glynn laughs. “Yes, I’m not sure that works as an allegory for you and your… Ah, this is better… Has your mother been filling your head with nonsense?”
“No,” says Grainne, “She hasn’t.”
“And how’s Mum’s memory?”
“Not great,” she says, “She can be scatterbrained. She loses things easily.”
Glynn’s eyes widen, his lips pout. She knows that face, and she cuts him off— “No—you’re not saying that.”
He smiles, “Saying what, Grainne?
“My mother loses her keys, so to teach her a lesson my head is now hollow. That’s ridiculous.”
“I look into everything,” says Glynn, “Allegories have structures and their lessons. That’s how we find the message of your story.”
He joggles his foot— Today’s socks are evergreen pine.
The day before the palest pastel green.
And the day before that and the day before that…
She rubs her forehead “I don’t want to do anymore today. I’m tired.”
“We’ll continue tomorrow,” he says, his hand on her shoulder a softly pinch. “We’ll get to the bottom of this, Grainne!”
She knows he doesn’t mean a cure.
He just wants to watch it happen to her.
Glynn has left her in silence, leaving her feeling in every way hollow.
The doorbell rings and she leaves it to fill the downstairs spaces with sound.
The boom of a stone to her window pane and when she rises and opens it— Podge Keanely on the pavement, holding her homework like a shield.
And in his other hand. “I brought.”
He gulps a breath—
“You onion rings.”
He shows them—packaging transparent where thumb presses into oil.
Leaning outside, fresh wind catches her last curls; the stuffiness of her room leaking past her and away.
She looks at him and his onion rings and over them the swarming slate of cloud, threatening a dousing shower.
“Hang on,” she says, and down the stairs three at a time. She lets him in, bringing him up the stairs and into her room.
He watches her from the safety of the doorway. The first person in weeks who wasn’t her mother or Glynn.
She smiles, “You can sit on the bed,” and she pats it. “Tell me what school has been like. What everyone has been up to.”
A brittleness there. “No-one visits,” she whispers.
Slowly he comes forward and sits beside her and as they share the onion rings Podge Keanely speaks. Hesitantly at first, stopping to pull words free and send them on their way. But the more he talks the easier it is.
They talk about school and teachers and books and their families and the pyramids and the moon and a hundred other topics.
He plays with the greasy wrapper as rain comes and goes.
They find themselves laughing. They find a spark between them.
And with the dark coming “I have to go,” says Podge Keanley, getting up.
He stands in the doorway.
“It was lovely.”
He is gone for an hour when she sees it— from the wrapper of the onion rings he’s folded her a dinosaur.
She leaves it on her locker and watches it until sleep.
By morning it has wilted, by lunch her mother has thrown it out.
But the beauty stays with her.
For the first time in days, she wasn’t alone.
She’d forgotten there was something she longed to escape.
Today Glynn has brought students. They crowd her bedroom, all trying to look down into the red cup of her hollowed head.
Teeth and eyes, seen from behind, set in a matrix of pink and grey.
“Can you feel this?” Glynn reaches with a wooden peg and softly taps the back of her eye.
“Yes,” says Grainne, “I can feel that.”
They watch her teeth working from behind, they watch them grit as she says “I can feel it all. I can feel your breath right down inside me. Down to the bottom.”
Glynn raises his eyebrows, mouthing write that down.
The female student scratches it on her clipboard.
“Now,” whispers Glynn, “Can you feel this?”
Down the wooden peg again to tap the other eye.
“I have a stammer,” says Podge Keanley, his hand upon the schoolbooks by her bed. He gulps a breath and goes for another sentence.
“People think I’m stupid.”
“But I have things.”
“Can’t say things when I most want to.”
Quiet in the bedroom.
He looks at her, sat at the head. Deep and grey the shadows under her eyes, her lips thin, thick and the bandages around the head.
“Grainne,” he softly says, “I’d like to see.”
“Can you show me?”
“Not for it.”
Three weeks ago he was just a face she walked past.
And now, if anyone else had asked her…
Eyes on him, her hands come up to unpin, letting bandages fall down back and chest. Podge comes to her on hands and knees; she turns her back, bending forward so he can see.
“I’m monstrous,” she whispers, “A terrible thing.”
“No,” says Podge, placing hands on either side, “It’s still you.”
“Never be monstrous.”
He runs the rim with fingers, sees the width and breadth and depth of her.
And when he is done she wraps again.
“Thank you,” he says.
His hand on hers— a squeeze and gone again.
She shares a little smile with him.
“But who’s the lesson for?”
Glynn looks up, startled by the sharpness. “Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out, Grainne.” Fingers held to be bent back in counting: “It may be a lesson for you. Or a family member. A classmate. A friend.”
“But we’ll understand your allegory, I promise.” He smiles. “Can I show you what I made?” He turns his clipboard around: Grainne in crude green penstrokes, surrounded by hearts and flowers, a thousand stars come from her wound. Underneath the legend curling:
THE GIRL WHO HOLLOWED HER HEAD
His plastic, wipe-clean, sterling smile.
Claw it from the meat of him.
“I’m not a story,” cries Grainne Kane, “I’m not an allegory! I don’t want to be a lesson for anyone!”
Blunt nails digging into her cheekbones. “I’m me. I just want to be me and nothing more!”
“I know,” says Glynn, ratcheting down until he resembles compassion, “But it’s not up to you or me. No-one can control this.”
“Why me?” and the tears come, “Why pick me?”
Glynn counts them, writing:
With the back of her hand Mrs Kane strokes her daughter’s forehead. “Sleep now, love. Try and get some sleep.”
“Read to me,” whispers Grainne, “Please.” She rests her head on pillows.
Mrs Kane looks her daughter’s bookshelf, shepherded by soft toys and trophies. “What do you want me to read?”
“Not a story,” says Grainne, “So tired of stories.”
She rubs her face with bandaged hands.
“I just want to hear your voice.”
So Mrs Kane reads with the book held on her knees, the lampshade setting them both in a circle of light—
“O’Conner, Ann, 82 Brackenstown Village, Swords, 01096224.”
“O’Conner, Ann, Apartment 7, The Archer’s Hove, Clonsilla, 01087379.”
“O’Conner, Ann, 77 Seagrave Hall, Ratoath, 01060604.”
Grainne is asleep.
Her mother closes the phonebook.
A blanket pulled up over the shoulder.
A kiss to the temple.
Out she goes.
Watching until the door closes away the light.
Glynn sits on the end of her bed.
She doesn’t like that. It’s a liberty
He holds her chin, low voice trembling. “It’s happening now. Can you feel it?” He’s too close. “Everything sharpening. Everything becoming…”
Eyes behind glasses.
“Significant. Look around you Grainne, tell me what you see.”
“My books,” she mumbles, “Photos of my father and brother before the accident. Paper dinosaurs.”
Glynn laughs. “See? Feel the texture. You’re building the place. You’re making it all mean.” Hands on her shoulders, gripping. “That’s the allegory coming through you.”
She looks away but he turns her face back to his.
“Look at me.”
“What do you see?”
Hairs in his nostrils.
A dark freckle under his left eye.
A fleck of bread trapped in his beard.
Smelling this morning’s coffee.
“What’s my significance?” growled through dog’s teeth, “What’s my narrative worth?”
Iron in Grainne’s voice, dull unpolished iron:
“I’ve made up my mind. I’m not going to let it change me. Let it get the better of me. I’m going to keep being myself.”
“That’ll be the lesson I make out of this.”
“Not giving up.”
Mrs Kane kisses her on her forehead.
“How do you feel?” asks Podge Keanely, folding a paper square into a bird base.
“Okay,” she says.
He licks his lips, “You don’t feel lie—”
She looks at him.
“If you are trying to say light headed, Podge Keanley, I will thump you.”
“Couldn’t resist it.”
She smiles, “Oh, will you show me how you make.”
She closes her eyes.
“How you make.”
A blenching of skin
Down onto the bed with Grainne Kane.
He can’t get the breath to scream.
And the word comes up as Kraken rising:
Mrs Kane in the doorway.
Podge holding Grainne. “She just.”
An hour before Proutfot arrives and Grainne passing in and out of consciousness. She wakes to find him looking down, a mass in reddish pink and brown and deadened air.
“Doctor,” she whispers, “What are you doing?”
“Making you comfortable.”
“Oh no,” she gasps, gripping his sleeve, “Please. Don’t say that. When there’s nothing you can do—when you know—that’s what you say.”
He pulls a syringe and tiny red bottle from his bag.
“Sleep,” says Doctor Proutfot.
In the point to the bottle and pull.
“No,” says Grainne, but she’s too weak.
Into the arm and push.
Slide away down, the hollow of sleep.
“Has she long?” squeaks Mrs Kane. Dr Proutfot shrugs. He pockets the money. She follows him— “You can’t just— You can’t just leave her — What do we do?”
Proutfot opens the front door, revealing Professor Glynn and his students, come to watch the hollow girl go. Mrs Kane reaches for the doctor but the academics corral her back indoors—Proutfot is past them and opening his car.
“Wait!” screams Mrs Kane.
“You don’t mind?” says Glynn.
The slamming car door and engine roar and not waiting for her answer, Glynn and his students enter, house ringing with the sound of conquered stairs.
They try to crowd out Podge but he will not be moved. He wants to say that but there’s too many and they won’t give him time to get the words out. He gets in the space between locker and bed and crouches as the students set up cameras and recorders.
“Make sure you get her last words,” barks Glynn.
Things that click and buzz are swiftly unpacked, measurements taken that spark hushed conversations.
They look at her books.
Her pictures of father and brother.
With tweezers they pick up a half-finished origami dinosaur, slipping it into a plastic bag.
They nod, whispering “Significant. Yes, significant.”
Whatever Proutfot gave her wears off and Grainne wakes. Groggy, unable to move, she looks at the students crowding her room—
Glynn, giving her a cheery thumbs up. “Not long now!”
Her mother, out on the landing, kept there by the bulk of bodies, screaming “I want to be with her! I want to be with her!”
The door closes out the sight of her but not the sound.
“You can’t do this!”
And Podge, by her bed. White as a sheet, his hands over his mouth.
She lifts a leaden arm and takes his hand.
“Podge,” she whispers.
And he can’t say “I’m here.”
He wants to; he’s breaking with the need to say it.
But breath is betraying him.
The students chatter excitedly—things are going bing and buzzing and Glynn rubs hands together. “The end,” he says, “It’s imminent!”
“The allegory is earthing!”
“Someone’s going to learn a lesson!”
All of her strength goes into keeping her hand in his.
“Gra,” is half a word for her.
She shakes her head.
“I’ll never get to be.”
“I’ll never know.”
He takes a deep, deep breath.
Words in cavernous, uncatchable dark.
“Podge,” she says, and he’s so close to her now.
“We’d been friends.”
He leans and kisses her on the lips.
Tasting where tears are mingling.
Her last breath is his now.
She is gone.
(Glynn claps hands together.
Smiling, light on his speckled lenses.
“Okay. Hands up who thinks this story applies to them?”)