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  • Mark Mayes

Wakening | By Mark Mayes

He’d been up all night, like usual. And for perhaps the final time he knew what his work was. Or call it play or focus or love. He knew it, and there was no more room for doubt, and in fact doubt was a silly thing. He was impervious now, and free.


He’d eaten some black grapes. The stalk lay in a plastic container that was the top of his mini kitchen scale. Morrissey was in the background singing the old Pretenders’ song Back on the Chain Gang, and Morrisey was doing it really well.


He, the man in this story, not Morrissey, was feeling buoyed up by something – even though the news of another lockdown had come down the evening before. He had his purpose now – not a new purpose, but a newly renewed purpose for now, for now and always, if he would simply let it be.


The black grapes were, had been, small, very black and even in their skin - glossy. The flavour delicate and just right for sweetness, and crispness. He wondered what kind of wine they would have made, or perhaps did make, others of their kind, in some far-off field under another sun.


It was 6.57 a.m., and one neighbour had already left. He’d heard her door go, and then her shoes on the stone stairs the other side of the wall. The wall was behind the computer on the desk. She’d passed a couple of feet from him, in all likelihood. Well, in actuality, she’d been that close. Her hand had held the rail, perhaps just the other side of the wall.


And then a bang downstairs from another neighbour – another door going. And then the door of their van, and the engine starting. Then the van leaving. And here he was, with no job as such, but he had work to do, nonetheless, if he had to call it that forbidding word, which he didn’t. He would call it play, as previously thought, and feel it, lightly, as the esprit de jeu. He’d looked up the phrase on Google translate, and it fit. It was the right approach. For everything now. For everything.


Mark Mayes has written three novels (The Blue Box; The Grass Below; Crimes of Others), a children's book (Is it Tomorrow Yet?), a collection of short stories (Take Away the Sky, and other stories), and a collection of poems (Winter Moon). He is widely published in magazines and anthologies. Mark also writes songs.


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