by Matt Kendrick
fluffy clouds; fluffy sheep; clowns’ faces both happy and sad; the light before it spills into fickle rainbows in the water in the plastic cup on your bedside table;
your ankle socks, one rolled up, one rolled down; mist-laced memories of wellingtons pirouetting over frosty ground, hoping for snow; a polar bear called Cosmo in your mittened hand;
real-life polar bears in Svalbard, Norway; plane tickets to go there, unpurchased; the aeroplane I can see in the perplexingly cloudless sky; its vapour trail, a comet’s tail; the sour cream moon I bargain with on a clear night;
in the chapel, the chaplain’s cassock; her teeth, enamelled gravestones that bite words in half—she says God works in mysterious ways and fades as I leave her for downstairs disinfected corridors not flocked with sheep and clouds and clowns like the ones up here; the tissue I dab at my eyes in the lift;
then starched bedsheets tucked in at the sides; the paper on the end-of-bed clipboard with its sloppy consonants and looping vowels; the blur of the nurse as the clock mangles time into pulped-up parcels; his cheeriness as he says it’s time for another round; eight little pills in a cardboard pot swallowed down with the rainbow water;
your crepe paper cheeks; the Elsa wig I bought you after we watched Frozen for the thirteenth time and you sang Let It Go’s soaring chorus, determined and breathless, over and over again; your hands cold like Elsa’s;
and silence and stillness
—except for the ghost that lurks in the corner of my eye; the one that has been there since you told me about the dream where everything is white; those fluttering wings of unvoiced fears; my lie that this will all be done with soon;
and in the pages of a photo album yet to be filled, an anti-ghost; you at Christmas wrinkling your nose at Brussels sprouts; you as a clown in the school play and, years later, posing with your University dissertation on Svalbard polar bears; the dress you’ll wear on your wedding day; the carnation in your hair; the thought of you in your first dance as you do what you’ve always done and pirouette serenely through the snow.
Matt Kendrick is a writer based in the East Midlands, UK. His stories have been published in Fictive Dream, Lucent Dreaming, Reflex Fiction, Spelk, Storgy, FlashBack Fiction and the BFFA Anthology. Further information about his work can be found on his website: www.mattkendrick.co.uk. He is on Twitter @MkenWrites.