This Life

by Cath Barton

At first, for a long time, I wanted to go back. Back to before. To the place where doors fitted snugly in their frames. Here everything is warped. Even time itself. The benefit is that I am forgetting. Every night when I gaze into the sunset a little more of the past is burnt away. Not that it is easier to turn into the dark. The nightmares have not eased. The dreams in which I walk through the fence and the hands reach out for me.

It is a relief when dawn comes, with its soft colours. I have, in truth, had enough brightness, no longer decry the pastel shades. I go out onto the flat roof and listen to the temple bells. Later, women will come out on the lower roofs and spread their washing to dry. I would wave, but it is better they do not see me. Better that I am alone. Though the people of this place are aware that I am here. They have seen me often enough on the streets to know I pose no threat.

Today I will buy oranges from the man on the corner of my street. He will ask a price and I will offer less. It is expected, but I will hold out the coins in my hand and let him take what he wants. It is little enough. I will go to the higher temple and make an offering. Just as others do here. It is a kind of wager. And it is, in these days, as good as any other.


Cath Barton (she/her) is an English writer living in Wales. She is the author of two novellas: The Plankton Collector (2018, New Welsh Review) won The New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novel;  In the Sweep of the Bay (2020, Louise Walters Books) was shortlisted for Best Novella in the Saboteur Awards 2021. Read more about her writing on her website She tweets as @CathBarton1


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