The Future Will Wait by Emily Harrison

The Future Will Wait

Emily Harrison


The morning light falls across them like train tracks – the blind half shut. His bare chest rises then falls in a steady motion. He’s a brick of a man, self-confessed. “Take more than a kitchen knife to cut through me.” He fills the space on his side of the bed in a solid, concrete lump.

Later in life – when devotion slips to tired semi-love, revelations abound, she’ll grow repulsed by this body. She’ll think of him as an unruly ham-hock. Sloppy butchering with specks of hair. But she’s not there yet. It’s all still fresh. He is an anchor to which she can moor herself. Hands dug into his shoulders. Legs tight around his waist.

His lips part, and she can see the white of his two front teeth. He lets out a snore and she retracts her hand. She’s been following a yellow fleshy scar on his upper-arm, ghosting her index finger over its grooved edges. His skin is akin to tiger bread. The scar stands out like a beam from a lighthouse. He has more of them on his hands, stretched across the palm, two on his thighs. A single scar, on the left side of his torso, traversing the length of his rib-cage. She’d licked it from base to tip the night before, their first time together. It stung of salt.

He lied about the scarring hours earlier, their limbs sated, curled together. “I got them saving a pretty woman from a burning building. Marks of a hero, really.” He thought it was funny. She let him have the omission and humoured him for more truth. He shrugged and faltered, cheeks red with unease. It was clear he wasn’t ready. She kissed him for an apology.

His breath settles – particles of residue dust swirl above them.

As the weeks weave into months; causality turning to commitment, he’ll reveal his truth. “It happened at home, when I was younger. My sister nearly died.” She’ll feel bad that she pressured him. She’ll tell him so between his sheets. He’ll tell her not to be sorry. He’ll tell her not to mention it again.

Her fingers return to his skin. She skates them slowly.

Sailing on the horizon of near repulsion and the coming collapse of love, she’ll learn beneath truths. Not the patchwork pieces of his cultivated puzzle. He’ll admit, in an argument, that he set the fire when he was seventeen. He rigged it to appear accidental. No one suspected him. He did it to hurt his sister; driven by childish, misplaced spite. His anchor will slip forever loose from the seabed. Actions will speak louder than words. She’ll wonder who her man is.

She runs the backs of her fingers over the scar until he wakes. He turns and kisses her soundly, lips biting at lips. He tastes of possibility. Parched, she drinks him wholly in.


About the author: Emily enjoyed creative writing in 2018, despite everything she may have previously said, and has decided to stick with it for the foreseeable future. She can be found on Twitter @emily__harrison, and has had work published with Ellipsis Zine, Storgy, Soft Cartel, Retreat West and Riggwelter Press to name a few.


Hospital Ward Flora by Emily Harrison

Hospital Ward Flora

Emily Harrison

The daffodils are wilting in the glass vase and Grandad is tied in tubes. Snaked up worse than before. Wilting too. His body rusting like a car soaked in salty water. He’s been on the ward for a year, since the fall. Breaking an arm and hip. Confined to a bed or occasionally a wheelchair. IV bag dripping away last speckles of now lacklustre life.

The flowers were our ‘thing’. No flowers this time. I’d started to get distracted by my own existence and stopped bringing bouquets to brighten his. I used to fetch them weekly. They gave us something to talk about that didn’t revolve around the probability of oncoming death.

“To the ground I must go,” Grandad would say.

“Maybe not so soon though,” I’d reply.

He’d been a gardener all his life. Mother nature was his first love. And his last. He knew all there was to know about the world of flora. Names, colours, where they grew, how they grew, how to tend to them. But it was always the meaning that he adored the most; what they symbolized. The first bunch I took, wrapped in a bow, were Peonies. Delicate, blush pink petals, thick chopped stems.

“Hints of power, romance and fortune,” he’d say.

“Expensive,” I’d say, teasing.

Tulips followed. Lush reds and sun yellows, a few dotted white. Thinner stems than the peony. Less support.

“Love, in all its forms,” he’d say, brushing his fingers across them.

“Because I love you,” I’d say, sickly sweet, as though I knew that’s what they meant.

Roses, posies, hyacinths and a potted plant came after that. Lilies, too.

“Peace,” he’d cough, meekly.

“Let’s hope,” I’d mumble.

Four months passed. Then came the daffodils. The final flower. The ones now drooping down under their own weight. Soggy tissue. When I gave him them – only a handful, he wrote down joy and happiness, on the back of a Tesco receipt. Throat too sore. I felt light headed and guilty.

Today, I have none to offer. And nothing to say. There’s a Doctor in the room, scribbling down numbers, responding to the ‘bleep’ machine. Mum’s here. Asking questions. Then it’s time to leave. I look into his milky eyes and wish I’d spoken through our language. Through earth, stems, petals and spectrums of natural light. He can’t speak anymore. Sliding to relapse. Suffering a stroke in his starched bed only last week.

Instead, he opens his bedside draw and hands me a tiny bouquet. Silk. With miniature baby blue heads and a polka dot yellow for the middle. Plastic leaves. Attached a note, ‘you can keep these for eternity,’ to the stem. I don’t ask him what they symbolise, for fear I would turn to tears. In the car home I Google them instead. How they look. That they seem to be wild. The search turns over four million results in less than a second, but it takes me a lifetime to recover.

Grandad’s final flower. Forget me nots.


About the author: A young writer from North Yorkshire, Emily has recently discovered that she actually likes creative writing, despite everything she may have previously said. She can also be found on Twitter @emily__harrison, and apologises in advance for her tweets.

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