Sometimes I visit them. They are deserving of more but my heart has its misgivings. Occasionally, I think of them rattling around in that stale air of decay. I’m not adverse to the odd pang of regret.
I open the door and allow a thin slice of my life to enter. I like to tantalise them. It pleases me to be adored. I like the fanfare. I thrive on applause.
Later, they huddle in a mismatched pack and attempt to splice together the discarded shards of my existence.
‘She’s taken a lover’, one claims.
‘Nonsense’, says another, she said ‘she’d hired a new glovemaker’.
‘Her voice was so muffled; it was hard to hear. I could swear she mentioned the affair.’
‘I thought she said she fancied an éclair.’
‘I, for one, felt a seismic shift. She’s ready to let us back in.’
‘You’re delusional. You’re reading too much into it as usual. She’s clearly concealing a secret behind that deadpan smile.’
‘Wait, you saw her face?’
‘You’re all sadly mistaken.’ That was my teen years preparing to unleash its own unique brand of sass.
‘I think you’ll find I’m the only one she wants to rediscover. My hypnotic appeal never fades. Badly applied mascara, Doc Martins and a grunge based mix-tape with a note from her crush. I feel it still.’
‘Oh, grow up! She’s married an Italian herdsman according to my intel. They have a family of four. She feeds them plant based bolognese and steamed pears.’
‘Your intel? She held my gaze that had to mean something.’
‘Yes, it means for a moment she saw her reflection. There was something, burgeoning understanding perhaps. Alas, you’re just another one of her problems that got out of hand.’
‘She belongs out there on the outside.’ That was agreed.
In unison they chorused ‘It’s because we love her that we can never be free.’
Catherine O’Brien is an Irish writer of poems, flash fiction and short stories. She writes bi-lingually in both English and Irish. Her work has appeared in print and online in Iris Comhar, Idle Ink, The Raven Review, Virtual Zine and other fine publications. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature. Her work is forthcoming in Janus Literary, Free Flash Fiction, Loft Books and more. You can find her on Twitter @abairrud2021