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Chapter 5 of Ark Noon

and it’s all a false hope, a fantasy, because it’s Skelly who’s coughing, poor big stupid Skelly, so even when I look at him he’s like a kid, crying, arms wrapped about himself, rocking as he stands by the skeleton barn, his face all misshapen and wrong, his head, his skull, his ears are all too large, his plaid shirt too tight and then I notice the blood on his shirt as he steps closer, it’s smeared over his jeans too, then I see his hands and they’re dark with blood too and he’s not a kid, he’s a man, a huge man who doesn’t know his own strength so I stand up and I look at little Haryy’s wrecked body and I start shouting at Skelly, asking him what happened, what happened, what happened, what did you do here, and he just cries more but I’m gone, proper gone, I can’t help it, I walk at him, I grab his shirt and even though he towers over me it’s like I’m telling off a kid, like I could do anything to him so I hit his arm, pound it, hit it as hard as I can and he goes I didn’t do nothing, mate and starts pointing down to the water, to the boats tied up beside my boat and he goes I were out, repeats that and he’s sobbing like a baby and it doesn’t matter that I’m crying too because I just want to shake him until he tells me what happened, what happened to Sarah, and I let go of his shirt, say what happened here, Skelly, and he shakes his big head and with massive spade hands he points to the boats again and goes  I were out, mate, honest I did nothing, and I see him glance down at Harry’s leftover body and close his eyes like he’s just seen him there like that for the first time and he falls on top of Harry’s body and lifts Harry up like Harry’s just air, just as light as that and nothing real anymore, and Skelly goes is he okay, mate, is he asleep now, and then he kisses Harry’s forehead and pulls back because it must be death cold, goes he’s ice¸ and then he kisses Harry again and says let’s take him up to the well, he liked it up there he did, and we walk up the hill to the well and Skelly asks again if Harry is sleeping but I don’t answer, I just look for signs of Sarah, something, even her body just left somewhere like Harry’s but I know it’s more likely that her body is in the farmhouse, what’s left after the fire anyway, what the Wavers left, what the fire left, and as we near the well I start to get these terrible images, flashes popping into my head of what the Wavers probably did, a boatful of men, drunk maybe, a girl, a pretty girl, a girl like Sarah and I start hoping that they just did whatever they did to her proper quick, just killed her like they killed Harry and at the top of the hill I look down at the farm, an island in all the water, the on and on water, and it’s nothing like it was the last time I was here, like I know it, it’s gone, the Pennys are gone, what’s left of them is in the farmhouse, I know that, I can feel that and I tell Skelly to put Harry down gently and he does, so gently, and he asks again is he sleeping now, it’s late isn’t it, but I don’t bother answering still because I hate Skelly like I’ve never hated anyone, hate that someone so big and dumb and useless is standing here, alive, when Harry is dead and all the Pennys ever were is gone, so I don’t even look at Skelly, I just place Harry’s hands on his chest and close his eyes and there are dandelions all around us, Sarah would always blow them at Harry and he’d like that, like the dusty bits of the flower blowing away, blowing past him, so I pick up a dandelion and put it on his chest and tell Skelly we have to go now and he doesn’t question me but as we walk back down the hill he keeps looking back at Harry like he’s expecting him to follow us, to wake, and when we reach the dead farmhouse I half think about sending him in, what would he feel anyway, nothing probably, I could just tell him to count the bodies but I don’t, I say wait here and he looks up to the well so I go in and it must have been a rotten fierce fire because the place is as far from a house, as far from what it was, as you could get, it’s all ash and rubble, it’s collapsed in on itself but there are a few of the main walls, the thick brick ones, still half standing, so I can walk from one room to the next, no doors to open like there was, like there should be, no trace of what the Pennys were except three bodies in the kitchen and I can tell who they are, not Sarah, not dad, so I go on and it’s in the study that I find her and I wonder if this is where they took her to do whatever they did but I push that thought away and just stand there, there are a few books still left on the floor by her, hardly charred, they’ve somehow survived the fire and I can just make out the pattern of the dress Sarah was wearing, the flowers on it, the same dress she was wearing in the barn when the mad rower came, and there are a few wisps of blonde hairs that I can’t stand seeing so I make myself walk away and I search every room or what were rooms and I feel sick as anyone was ever sick, I can feel the vomit climbing up my gut, up into my throat, but I swallow it back down and I take deep breaths and search but dad isn’t there, it’s just the Pennys, just Sarah, all of them dead and ruined and taken and I go back outside, throw my whole guts up right in front of Skelly so he says you eaten something bad, Ark, and I hate that he’s saying my name and I try to tell him to fuck off away from me through the vomiting but it’s just a sputter, a cough, a grunt that doesn’t register with him and he starts rubbing my back and saying there, there, it’ll be okay mate, like I’m the baby but it does the trick and I spit the last of it out and he’s till saying there, there, it’ll be okay¸ and if he could understand I’d tell him what a lie that was but instead I tell him we have to go, go where? he asks, glancing up at the well, and I say for a row, and he starts grinning because all Skelly does really is row, he rows all day scavenging for the Pennys and when he’d row his way home they’d pat him on his head and tell him what a good boy he was and he’d be thinking then probably about the next day’s rowing, and he goes did rick say it were okay? and I almost laugh but instead I say yes, Rick said it was fine, he said we should find them all something nice for dinner, he said we could row all day if we want until we find something really good for dinner


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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