+ I.


Maryborough. What would Twain say? I ask. It’s a station with a town attached. Ignition off, you pull out the keys. Your fingers, lean cigars. Does your daughter drive? Yes. Me up the fucking wall. Small face, pert mouth, lanky frame, voluptuous curves, a gaze like yours embossed in polaroid. If it’s important you’d deal with it? I say. It’s a battle of who cares. Aargh, whaa! The bark of crows on a tree against the crisp navy sky of our rendezvous from the whirr, eddy and buzz of a metropolis left behind. A burgeoning of new love. Your eyes, green-grey velvet. My heartbeat, lost. Your hand a fist, mine closed in. We down pie and brisket and golden ale plush with froth at the railway tavern and its mud and whitewash décor. I wonder why the pattern on the carpet isn’t right, I say. Floorboards collapsing is why. Your jaw, Rembrandt would have loitered his fingers across its topography, and then immortalized it. Your sudden grin. An aurora that engulfs me. Before dusk you will throw my back out in a $60 per night junction motel bed.



+ II.


Can we adjust the day with a smooth dial? You purr abandoned in sleep, peaceable like a tot, chin cradled to palm, in the indulgent cream of a feather eiderdown. Profligate in a corner: Mo Yan, Munro, Günter Grass, Soyinka, Xingjian in hard cover. Over there: a 75” slim profile LED TV. Inside your walk-in: bespoke suits, T. M. Lewins, pastel polos, boot cuts and skinny fits. Behind your shut lids: the palest eyes in crystal shimmer, inquisitive when they are not holding the utmost devotion. The peewee of the magpie-lark, a bird with a white throat and an ebony face (I know because I have seen it). The face you angle my way is a petal: open to sunray. A toe on my foot, a hand on my rib. And I wonder how you do it, how your soul has memory, a natural way to feel and give. Ringlets in the pleasure of your grin at my tenderness in a word. You take a back seat to unveiling your heart, but your hand on the small of my back will steer my walk with the knowledge of one who feels deeply, with the earnest of one with a silent pledge. Skin deep you are fragile, fragile, and you know it and I know it. Behind a façade of certainty: the qualm of a person who refrains. But you are selfless and tender, oh how you kiss me: Keats, Wordsworth, Dickinson and Poe, all wrapped in a moment. You give, don’t ask. Unlike those tulips and chrysanthemums and poinsettias and carnations sprigged with spear grass in a vase on the English oak table; flowers that give splendour and fragrance but demand water and devotion and no smoke or full sun lest they wither and die. Last night before our sleep, you rolled sleeves and seared to crispy skin fresh salmon, its flesh moist pink, garnished with broccoli sprigs (tossed with raisins) and creamed mash. Washed down with a chilled Semillon as you held my gaze. No malice in your bones, unlike the one afore you who shattered the heart you have assumed to restore. Teach me trust, my love—missing pieces. Will you slay me, slay me, mummify, tomb me when you choose to leave, or I do?



+ III.


Night falls, you hear the wind chime in the Blackwood: tinkle, tinkle, tink… You pour olive oil with tenderness in the heated pan. Break the eye fillet from its wrapping. Sear the meat with a grind of Himalayan pink rock, a crush of whole black pepper, a finger of green clove and a lick of rustic grape, full-bodied wine from the sandy loam of Barossa. You dice the fillet with the hands of a chef, elegant fingers that know every single contour of my frame. As I roll the flesh on my tongue, a rectangled piece soft pink inside, marinated in jus, I savour a balm to my dread of another murdered heart (will you sauté it, season it, when you rip it from my core?) in the mausoleum right here in my kitchen.



Eugen M. Bacon is a computer graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing who has published over 100 short stories. Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in the Copyright Agency Prize 2017, Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards 2016, Alan Marshall Short Story Award 2016, Lightship Publishing (UK) international short story prize 2013 and Fish Short Story Prize 2013/14. Her creative articles were nominated for the 2017 Aurealis Convenors Award For Excellence. Eugen’s creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Award Winning Australian Writing, AntipodeanSF, Andromeda, Aurealis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Breach, Bukker Tillibul, Every Day Fiction, Farther Stars Than These, Horrified Press anthologies, 4 Star Stories, Mascara Literary Review, Meniscus, TEXT, Parentheses, The Victorian Writer, the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild – A Hand of Knaves Anthology and through Routledge in New Writing.



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