Dreary Composites of Untold Suffering

Thick light dripping in dust motes comes pouring through my window. Our house is west facing, and after 22 years of living under its roof, I have timed our greetings perfectly. They swim around me.

Hi there.


It’s me, again.

Not you. Again.

There were so many evenings where I would drag you from your phone, you complaining loudly that you weren’t interested in another sunset, that you didn’t care to watch the stars begin to flicker in the powdered blue sky, or watch as a heavy-handed painter poured navy into its crevices. Secretly, you loved it. We both knew that.

Angela, not again. What’s so different about tonight?

You were always smirking. Below those stubborn words and thick furrowed brows, there was a playfulness, a giddy need to wind the family up. Your CBT therapist said it was a symptom of being the youngest in a large family. I said it was because you were a Gemini. He pursed his lips and Mam frowned at me, but you would have smirked that smirk of yours.

This is my first sunset since you left. I wasn’t able to do it, couldn’t bring myself to it. Mam dragged me to the doctor and spat hot tears at him.

She won’t sleep, she won’t eat, she won’t talk.

As if I don’t have enough going on, and now I have to watch out for her, she said.

My exams were deferred, but I’m not sure when I’ll go back. It felt like a small eternity until I finally found sleep, and when I did, I slept like a baby, curled up in my bed dreaming of nothing. It was the dreams I was most scared of, the anticipation of what night would bring. I don’t really dream anymore. When you left, I stopped writing them down in the morning. No one would be bothered to listen. It was only ever you.

This is my first sunset. The rooks are making their way home. Did you know a rook can live for over 20 years? I wish you could have known that. You would have liked that. The kitten caught one at the beginning of summer and we had him in a box in the shower for three weeks. His wing was broken. Dad grew fond of the poor thing but let him outside one day. Mam found him the next morning under the kitchen table. Feathers everywhere. We all cried. Dad buried him next to the cats.

The dust motes call to me. Why tonight?

I guess I came to say hello to you. I suppose I’m hoping it’s you who’s painting the sky tonight. I’m sorry I’ve missed so many. Could you do me a favor though? Could you paint it that dusty shade of blue that fills the air? The one we both loved. The one that stills our breath and makes us think of someone far away, under that same moon and that same sky.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is currently studying for a Masters in Screenwriting at the University of the Arts London from her bedroom in Offaly, Ireland. With the pressures of the course, she has found little time to write prose in the past few months, but this project was a lovely ease back into the flow.

Rachel has performed at the Cork International Short Story Festival 2019, and has had short stories previously published in the Quarryman journal and online on Dog Door Cultural.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.