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Laura, Toucan Editrice

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Clot, Cont'd.

He’d turn towards the sun when the Clot was thin; feeling the warmth of the rays he’d giggle hands held up and fingers spread, the sunlight making the Clot a translucent pinkness, the digits a blur of black within.
But now the Clot has grown so thick he cannot lift his head and all his fingers have been melted in a lump. Upon the shadowed doorstep he sits, silently running his pulpy mitten-hands over a bloated, hairless head.

She watches, listens— his voice a murmur, bubbling wordlessly deep within. Talking to no-one. Listening to no-one.

Increasingly now his steps were faltering, ponderous— from time to time contact with a sharp edge or a hot object left a wound, but if there was pain he gave no sign. Mostly he sat upon the lawn or the carpet or on side of the road, his head bowed to watch the ground through layers of Clot, watching it as if nothing else could ever hold more wonder.

The Clot— taking him away from the world layer by layer.

Taking him away from her.


Light through the lampshade is an anodyne blush, and it paints the room in clinical cold. She sits on the bed, pleading with him.

“And what did the Cat say, Jeremy? What did the Cat say?”

Laid out on the bed, he turns the featureless meat of his head away from her.

“It said ‘Meow’, Jeremy, ‘Meow! Open me for a present!’”

But rocking softly on the bed he made no sound.

“And what did she find inside?”

He made no sound.

“Jeremy, what did she find? Please, you knew this. Please, for Mammy.”

Just the sticky crinkle of plastic as he rocked back and forth.


She kissed the warm and bloody coating upon his face and wept, and it made no difference to him, no difference at all.


She stopped making him wear clothes. Nothing would fit; nothing would pass over the spongy thickness of his limbs or close upon the swollen throat.

But when the first snows fell—she insisted—a scarf, at the very least, and no argument.

“Are you cold?” she asked him

Unhurried, his head turned from side to side, a millstone grinding.

She threaded a scarf in the space between jaw and shoulders.

e protested, slowly, weakly, silently.

“Oh I know. I know. Mammy’s fussing.”

She pulled it tight. Watched fluid swarm, bulbish, between layers of Clot.


Bumbling, soft and bulb-limbed, he stumped, stooping, through snow and the children gave him a new nickname—the Big Red Snowman—as round now, as swollen, as featureless. And he’d sit by the gate or the foot of the wall and they’d throw snowballs at him until they grew bored with his silence and went home.

And when snow melted and blossoms came, still he sat, hands pawing the pebble-crumb blankness of his face, stroking the curve from forehead to chin again and again and again.

And gurgling without words in the depths of him...


They were relentless.

Screaming, waving hands, she ran towards them, the horizon a thundering wire, her son motionless, and the birds took fright, clattering into the air, carrying slivers stripped from the weeping cracks of Clot.

She gathered the scraps they dropped, held them— watched red bead between her knuckles.

And his head was a globe of meat— too heavy for his neck to support, that trapped the last threads of a scarf she had to be cut free.

Sitting in her chair, she waited for the wheeling, calling crows to return.


What woke her?

How did she know something was wrong?

Something called her from her bed, led her across the bluelit hall to his bedroom.

Where she found him.

What was left of him.

Squatting cross-legged in his nest of plastic, pulpish arms slung to his sides, paddle-hands open-palmed, his swollen head thrust back so the neck is a straining bend of meat, fat and red and glossy.

She whispered: “Jeremy...”

And she sees... from throat to crotch a ragged crack with thick rind edges, pink and fleshy; between— the deep red cadaver darkness of an emptied body.

In the night, like a rotten fruit, her son had split open.

And her heart is a breaking hope, a full-tongued taste of iron in the wet of her mouth— come home to me— be free—be finally free and she pleads to see her son, born again, washed back to her on a slick of blood, smiling, perfect, and after all these months to see his face again, unblemished, undamaged by Clot—

And with nothing to stop him saying: “I love you, Mammy. I missed you.”

But there is no blood.

No sluice of viscera.

And no Jeremy Hale waiting for her.

The red darkness holds nothing save for the scraps of bone and cartilage the Clot could not digest over those slow devouring months.

With frantic hands she grabs the lips of the fissure, forces the dry husk apart—screeching, the thin meat of the red neck puckers, gives way— breathes a dust-cloud grey and white into her hair, her mouth—she is covered in the stuff—

For eleven months Jeremy Hale had been screaming, locked inside the burning Clot as it digested him, layer by layer, screaming as his tongue and teeth dissolved, as it carried him mindlessly back and forth, as it sat with him in the shade and gurgling, worked upon his meat and bones.

Until finally there was nothing left of Jeremy to feed upon.

The Clot starved, shrivelled, cracked.


“Jeremy—Mammy’s here —”


She dug; she clawed in that foul-tasting powder—

Love was bursting to dust under her pawing hands—

Love was running through her fingers, all her love and life reduced to flecks of bone, to desiccated tissue, dry and fragile like the withered wings of moths—

Emptying; everything in that room emptying.

All her love leaving her, forever.

“Jeremy.... Answer Mammy...”

“Answer Mammy.”


She was Love..

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