Short fiction – The visit

The East coast cliffs dripped rainwater into the black soup below. Buoys bobbing about like soggy croutons. My story starts here, at the beginning, before it was nearly the end.

England poured grey. Even the fields reflected the greyness from the motorway. Jay loved it, loved the comforting blandness of life here. It was like a wonderful dreary homecoming. He didn’t remember England from being a child but the constant reminders from his school pals about his strange accent and their Van Dyke-esque attempts to mimic it served as a constant reminder of where he was from, really from. If Heathrow and London had seemed grey, the north could be differentiated by being poor and grey, but honest about it at least.’ No we are not a cultural mecca, now bugger off’ it seemed to say.

Uncle Graham reversed the car onto the drive cautiously. There is a particular type of person who would do this, someone who was prepared for a quick getaway perhaps, or liked to show off their driving skills. Uncle Graham was maybe both of these and neither, he was simply a careful person. Careful in the way he drove, the way he ate, but especially the way he spoke. The motto why use one word when you can shrug and say everything seemed to apply to him. His plodding appearance sagged him into his sallow complexion. Jay would find himself interpreting this mans facial expressions. As Uncle Graham turned slowly in his seat towards him and raised one eyebrow with the slightest of nods, Jays best guess was, well here we are, make yourself at home young man. Of course it could have been I will let you stay here but just don’t fuck it up’. Jay was pretty glad he didn’t speak

As for Aunt Elsie he immediately understood why the guy didn’t speak, she said everything for him and then some. It was like being rattled by a verbal hurricane.

I’ve made up the spare room for you, with clean sheets, she paused. There is some space in the wardrobe on the left side only. I keep my winter wardrobe on the right hand side. Graham doesn’t have a winter or summer wardrobe she humphed disapprovingly – just clothes. A slight triumphant wrinkle appeared at the corner of Grahams mouth as he turned his back on the pair of them and slumped his way down the stairs.

‘No doubt off to his gloomy little shack at the end of the lawn’ she cackled. ‘Mad on trains he is, she continued, absolutely mad, he’s like a big kid’ She pursed her lips

Jay felt a 50’s kitchen sink drama coming on but he smiled politely and ushered the ridiculous woman out of the door ‘I’ve got it from here Aunty’

‘Well, tea at 6, I won’t warm it up if you’re late’ she warned

‘Great thanks’ he replied, not taking her on anymore

Jay sat down on the bed, surprised at how much he sank into the worn out mattress. It’s a start he thought, gotta start somewhere. Clothes away, time to go out.

The streets were deserted, an occasional chocolate wrapper tumbled down the street – the remnants from a treat he did not recognise, chocolate was always better in England though. Once he tried it he realised that American chocolate had a kind of sicky taste to it. He couldn’t touch Hershey kisses any more. It was like getting a smooch with someone who’d just chucked up all over the place.

It was at that moment that he saw her on the street corner. Not a moment of enraptured romanticism as you might expect. As I had just explained he had been thinking about the idea of going tongue to tongue with a vomity flavoured goblet. Life in England definitely not all wine and roses.

Published by G Turner

Gavin Turner is a poet and writer of short fiction. He lives in North West England. Some of his work is published here on this site and more recently in other journals and publications.

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