Good Mourning: A Short Story by Chris Cummings…

The water splashed pink against the tiles that his wife had cleaned earlier in the day. He cringed and gritted his teeth as he imagined the words coming from her voice if she were to see the mess he’d made, and he wiped away the speckles with toilet paper. His reflection was angry and tired, his eyes sagging like rucksacks carrying too heavy a load. He gazed down at his hands, wet and cold, and they were clean, but the blood had soaked into the cuffs of his work shirt and become a brownish red. He spat down at his hands and groaned, his favourite shirt was ruined.

“Fuck”, he whispered under his breath, before clumsily pulling the cotton shirt off, the button holes ripping as he pulled on it harshly to quickly get it off his body.

The orange light of sunrise swelled against the glass of the bathroom window and snapped him out of his distraction. It was fast becoming morning and he still had to wash the blood from his face and burn his clothes.

His young daughter began to wake a few hours later. Lucky for him it was a Sunday and she liked to sleep a little later. He had managed to burn the clothes and wash the blood from anywhere it might have been. He greeted her with a kiss on the forehead and she smiled a sleepy smile before asking for him to get some breakfast ready. The day was beginning like any other Sunday and the warmth of the house only seemed to make him remember just how insane the previous hours had been. He kept looking down at his hands, like he expected them to be dripping with the deep red blood of the night before. He made coffee and cereal and sat to the kitchen table, his daughter rubbing away the dreams from her eyes and she yawned and got used to being awake. He stared out of the window, the bright sky shining like an unwelcome guest against the glass.

He looked at her, her face innocently chewing away on the alphabet shaped flakes, and he smiled, running his hands through his hair and stretching his arms out. He sipped some of his coffee and closed his eyes as the warm bitter liquid trickled down his throat. In the darkness of his eyelids, he saw the face, the bleeding face. He saw the wide open wound and the sharp knife that was repulsively sticking out of it. His eyes quickly bolted open again and suddenly the coffee tasted like the sickening iron of blood, and he gagged on it, holding his fist to his mouth to hide his retching. His daughter looked up from her bowl and frowned.

”Are you alright, daddy?” she asked, her spoon dropping into her dish with a metallic clunk.

“I’m fine honey, just a tickle in my throat”, he lied, forcing a smile.

The room went silent again, and he coughed away the imaginary taste that stuck to his tongue like mildew. She sipped milk from the end of her spoon and the sound of the slurping made him think of the terrible death rattle from a few hours prior. She finished off her breakfast, and he drank back the rest of his coffee, and they looked at one another.

“Where’s Mom” she asked, the awareness of her absence coming into play.

He looked at her with a indolent expression, his mind on the idea of making more coffee, and he stood and put his hand on her skinny shoulder.

“Who?” he asked.

(For information on Chris Cummings debut Sci-fi novel check out his page here

Categories: Fiction

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