– after the song ‘Wonderful’ by Geoffrey Williams

He’s in the open window, dangling one leg above the street that’s still searing from the heat of the day. His apartment block is going to bake all night. Downstairs an argument about a spilt G&T. He’s thinking about his girlfriend who just flew out, how they got together at the end of her visa. She’s on her way home, going back to her life and the band she and her ex put together. She said, do the things that make you feel wonderful inside. But he can’t think of a single one. All he can do is get down to the street and walk around in this stew until dawn.

He’s got to keep moving, to know his heart still works because it feels like it’s bleeding out. He’s walking away from tomorrow’s music exam, his saxophone back in the apartment. It blazes a reflection of the room they shared, like a golden fun hall mirror. He’s stretched out of shape. It’s over, they agreed. She said, do the things, let the spirit take you.

Down past the burger joint, through bin lined alleys where waiters smoke on their breaks like waiters. Across the roundabout to the reserve, the pines along the creek with their dump of roasted cones and needles. He only knows he’s walking as far as he can, as if to shift her from the top of his lungs. It’s harder to live with if he talks about it. It’s impossible to play one note.

Further on and the lights are far behind, the creek widens and gathers a flow. He can almost hear some promise of cool, the course of water babbling through.

Just heat, still heat, and the frog pop sounds in the reeds of the river it’s becoming. His shirt is open so he takes it to his waist, tying it off with a knot, then a double. He wants to feel wonderful, he’d like to be taken, to do something with what they had. But to feel anything good seems like a betrayal of the countdown love they practised.

He reaches the bend, where the river turns, almost winding back on itself. It steers toward the city as if in doubt, but free of blame or guilt. It doesn’t go back, somewhere it opens out and drains into something else, an ear of coast, a mind of sky that his heart can’t bear right now. He stands in the gully in the sweat and beat of everything aching together. Dawn is far off, the long bar of the horizon, and the promise of a breeze through the hollow.

CategoryFlash Fiction

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