The Space Between Us

Alison Wassell 

Snail slow, we pass neighbours stiff as sentries lining the crescent they call a waiting room for the graveyard. On the main road a bus queue of pensioners pays its respects in what looks like a choreographed routine. When the lights at the bridge are against us you drum the seat as I twist Mum’s ring, the one you said I had no right to, round my too-fat-for-it finger. We stare straight ahead, The Favourite and The Other One, although we never could agree which was which. I ask if you remember the time Grandad’s trilby blew off here, in a blizzard, on his way to wait in for the man coming to mend the telly and we found it, days later, sad and soggy in the thaw. Your lips twitch, but just in time you remember we’re officially not speaking. In silence we pass the school where I fulfilled my potential and you failed to live up to expectations, and the park where you hung out with the rest of the cool kids while I sat in my bedroom watching Top of the Pops on a black and white portable, writing poems that read like suicide notes. We crawl past the pub where we had our first underage drink, me part of your gang for once, stumbling home, arm in arm, to Dad on the doorstep, half-pissed himself and doing his best not to laugh as he read us the riot act. I give you a shy sideways glance and know, somehow, that you’re thinking of the same thing. By the time the car turns into the driveway up to the crematorium our hands have breached the space between us, and our little fingers are entwined.

Alison Wassell is a flash fiction and short story writer, published by Bath Flash Fiction Award, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, NFFD and other random places. She lives in the North West of England with her elderly cat and has no desire whatsoever to write a novel. She wishes people would value short fiction more highly.