Strangers in the Static – Extract from Dogtooth Chronicals

STRANGERS IN THE STATIC

Claudia McLeod, Sheffield

Roxy were out and I were worried. I sat on’t wide window ledge in my bedroom, my body folded intu’t frame a the window, starin out at the sparklin torrent of rain which came and went in great bursts. Night was arriving in purple and ev’rythin went quiet and still furra moment save the wind, which seemed ta rock the trees in slow motion. I watched the street below. Waitin furra small figure to come hurrying t’wards house. But it were empty and another brattle shook the stillness. I thought sadly of a storm way back in’t past. One that I’d delighted in, instead of worryin about all the people I knew who might be out.

Afore this other storm, I were sat in the attic of number 42. It were maybe five years earlier, ‘fore I dropped out of Uni. I were workin at my computer when there was a mighty thunder clap outside. There’d been a heat wave during the week which were on the cusp a breakin grandly, the way they always do eventually. My skylight was wide open, temptin a downpour. A delayed flash came, so bright it seemed to reach inside t’window and fill the room. It was followed by another brattle, and my stereo playin The Pixies album kicked into the whiney intro of Where is my mind?. The air’ud been stuffy and wahm but now a chill ran through me.

I stood up to close the window some as the pit pat of rain began. I pulled it down and watched the water begin streakin and spottin the glass. A face appeared at’t window and I stifled back a yelp of fear. It were you a’course, a manic grin spreadin at yar crafted prank. You’d been three doors down at a mate’s house, likely jammin in’t cellar, when you’d thought to climb over the roof-tops and scare the shit outtah me. I let you in, grabbin at you as you dropped down onto the bed in dirty trainers. Yar messy ginger-blonde fringe was wet and mattin, my anger at bein surprised easily mutated into lust. I kissed you.

That boy was not Haydn of coarse. It were Jody. And yet the rude tangle of two bodies is the sayme. In my dreams lovers merge indiscriminately. I don’t want them to. It gives me belly-wark ta think that it’s all the sayme. That each new love in’t special and unique. Jus a different shade a muck beclartin ma mem’ry. I remembered the thunderstoarm wi’ equal nostalgia and dread. As I ‘membered the glimpse a love in his eyes muddied always by the tone of doubt in his voice. Which mayde me know that it would end bitte’ly, and I would hayte us boath for ever havin met. And each new love would always be tainted by ev’rythin that came before.

There was a flash a light’nin in the present thunderstorm and the wind rattled the window close to ma head. But I hugged the sense of fear in a burst of breathy adrenaline that drove back tears for loves lost in’t past, and missin friends in’t present. I stood up and went over to the landline, as the network on my mobile was down agen. I dialled Roxy’s number, but there was just a hiss of static and strange ghostly voices on the phone. As though wires were crossed. I purrit down, and waited a bit, hoverin wi’ my hand on it. There was a knock at the door.

“Yeah,” I said, coverin the shake in my voice.

Josie and Maisie came in. Josie went and peered outtah the window, tuggin anxiously at irratic brown hair. Maisie sat down on’t bed pokin at a hole in her jeans.

“Is Roxy still out?” she asked softly.

“Yeah,” I said cynic’ly. “Same shit, different day.”

I dialled her number agen. This time it rang a few times and then there was quiet, and the sound a wind.

“Roxy?” I said, my voice unusually deep.

The wind howlin, then…

“Hi…tsssssssssssssssssssssssssss…Claudia?”

“Where are you?”

“Tsssssssssssssssssss…I’m okay…tsssssssssssssssssssss.” The line went dead.

“I’ll make tea,” Maisie said decisively.

We nodded. She left the room and Josie and I looked at one another glumly. The house shook agen wi’ another thunderclap. It was dead dark outside now, vast and unforgiving.

My deep cynicism for all things can only be smashed by you, and these words frighten me more than anything.Because beyond my deep cynicism I’m not sure there is a person left anymore.What if you were to find a hollow?

 

 

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