A Scattering of Symmetry

The sausages are screaming in the frying pan as I lift it off the heat. Their browned skin has split, revealing the meat beneath like a gaping wound. I rummage in the drawer for a fork. Spearing them one by one I put the sausages on a plate next to the toasted soda bread. I sit down at the kitchen table and begin to eat. It’s four in the morning.

The post comes at nine. I’m sitting in the living room, in the dark, curtains closed, drinking coffee and smoking as the letterbox snaps and the postman’s footsteps fade. I finish my cigarette and go out into the hall and pick up the mail. There’s a flyer for a Christmas sale in town and a card addressed to you. I go through to the kitchen, put the kettle on for another coffee and drop the mail in the bin.

The next few hours: I drink another cup of coffee and smoke three cigarettes. I think about watching TV but don’t. I run a bath, using up the last of your aromatherapy oil, and soak myself until the water turns cold. I take the plug out of the bath and watch the water swirl and gurgle around me. I lie in the bath until all the water has drained away and I begin to shiver. I cry…

‘A Scattering of Symmetry’ was judged second prize in The Brian Moore Short Story Award in 2003.

The Judge was Carlo Gebler.

It was published in the Irish literary magazine ‘The Stinging Fly: Issue 17,’ Winter & Spring 2004. It is available here: Stinging Fly Issue 17

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