Do You See Me Coming? | By F.C. Malby
Do you see me coming, when the days are short and the nights feverish, when the family gathers round, wondering whether to call the doctor or let you slip away, peacefully. Do you see me coming when the flicker of evening light reminds you that your ancestors are beckoning you home. You think about your childhood and remember days where you came inside, covered in dirt and Mother shooed you away with a flap of a hand, and the smell of creosote where Father had painted the fence. You loved the smell but you weren't supposed to. It was toxic, you were told, but you also loved the hot scent of tarmac. You always liked the things that you weren't supposed to. You remember the way the swallows came in to nest then left, like Father, when I had come to him, too. He saw me coming. The rest of you only saw me leave, taking him with me. Do you see me coming, when the priest lays a hand on you, despite it being your wife's wish and not your own, when you don't believe in an afterlife, in a heaven of sorts. Your heart aches with the heaviness of the years, the ones that have passed since you last saw your son. Your wife doesn't know he exists and you want to go to a place where he can, where you can be a father to him. Maybe you'll come with me and greet him with an embrace, maybe you'll wait another night.
Do you see me coming, with a clock and with weighing scales. Do you see me coming to measure your life, so many of your days covered in dirt. It's all you've ever felt. You are ready to step off? Your family doesn’t see me; do you see me coming?
F.C. Malby is a contributor to Unthology 8 and Hearing Voices: The Litro Anthology of New Fiction. Her debut short story collection, My Brother Was a Kangaroo includes award-winning stories, and her debut novel, Take Me to the Castle, won The People's Book Awards. Her short fiction has been longlisted in The New Writer Magazine Annual Prose and Poetry Prizes, the TSS Publishing Microfiction Contest, and won the Litro Magazine Environmental Disaster fiction competition. Her stories have also been widely published both online and in print.