Flash Fiction: Earth by Helen Sedgwick
Poem from poet editor-in-chief at Cargo Publishing
They made the hut when they were still kids; neither of them wants to mention how it’s too small now. They crawl inside and sit on the sleeping bags that have been zipped together to make a padded floor mat. They end up with their feet sticking out of the entrance – they never got round to making a door so it’s always been three-walled, with some rocks in the front. When the wooden walls are rotted away to more earth and soil and mud, the rocks will still be there; an outline of what is lost.
He unbuttons her shirt slowly while she talks about Rome, kisses the nape of her neck, touches her right dimple when she smiles. Her woollen tights are navy blue today, like her skirt, which unbuttons over her hip and has to be unwrapped from side to side. She rolls along the ground and he gently pulls the fabric until she reaches the end of the sleeping bag; still lying on part of the pleated skirt she rolls back over towards him. This is what they do; roll away and roll back again; meet in the middle of their secret childhood hut with their clothes half off and their hands damp from the stream’s spray.
You have stubble today, she says, her cheek brushing his chin.
The sleeping bag scrunches up underneath them until they’re lying on an island within an island.
Theirs is not an urgent love; it is undoubted, whispered rather than shouted.
Stay there, she says. Stay inside me.
A dog barks on the bank; his owner looks up from the leaf-mould path. The rain turns from drizzle to drops that splash the water’s calm. He looks back to his next footstep and whistles a wordless tune from the past.
Helen Sedgwick is editor-in-chief at Cargo Publishing.