Leaving (or, expiation)

The current changed that summer, spread silt and sea moss down into the cove. The clouds broke wide and hungry over the horizon, and the turtle tracks they’d followed that spring into the bright blue water, lay windswept beneath the sand. Jeremy still played his piano in the evenings, but preferred to do so when the house was empty. The children, too, appeared to grow more distant, developed into huddles on the veranda to talk about things they didn’t want their parents to hear. Jane wore blue that morning, studied herself in the mirror, her fingers picking at the seams of her dress. The sky was grey.

Jeremy was on the lawn pulling weeds from the ash-gray earth.

“I’ll be back by five,” she said, his head bobbing faintly in reply.

There are those men who never have any use for words, and others for whom the tap suddenly dries out. Ordinarily she would listen to talk radio on her way into town. This time she could face only the sound of the engine, a final chorus of crickets chirping in the fields.

Skies of leaving, skies of love. In the distance a bout of summer rain beat soundlessly upon the hills. There was something operatic about the ending of things. Try as she might the drama of it seeped in. She decided to treat the children, since they were the innocent party in it all, pulled off the highway to a store to pick up new drawing materials for the girls, a basketball for Eric, and then for herself, a pendant she decided would be the gift she’d wear to remind herself of the day she left them all.

Brett Darling is a writer from London. He is a graduate of the MA in creative writing programme at London Metropolitan University. His ekphrastic writing is forthcoming on the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) blog. This is his first published work of fiction.

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