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Bend in the Road

F. E. Clark

      ot much in it between a blessing and a curse. Could be they’re two sides of the same thing: dark and light. Used to think it was down to what each individual believed, but that was then, this is now. See this scar on my collarbone? You always said it was your X-marks-the-spot, it told you I was the one. 

          I was driving home from the late shift one night, not long before I met you. Reeking of spilt beer, just me, with Shane MacGowan and the Pogues blasting from the car stereo. At that place in the road, the one I told you about, remember, near the stone circle where I saw the hooded people with candles gathering at the solstice? Remember you’d laughed when I told you about their bicycles strewn on the verge, said they were probably all teenage goths? It’s just before the road rises to where the red-kite wood was before the storms, the place where mists gather? The place old Ma Grey’s son’s motorbike went off the road, where she left a wreath every year, until she died too? There, just beside the outlier stone.  

          I took the corner canny-like, scared of spinning out. Lights of a vehicle approaching blinded me. We dipped our high beams. On the road between us a deer stood stock-still, breath white in the night air, its huge rack of antlers wide as the sky. Then it bolted, ricocheting off the other vehicle, then mine, then the other vehicle; trapped in the hell portal of our lights. 

          I cut my engine and lights, and as if in sync the other driver did the same. Felt real good, like we were all in tune, the driver, the stag, and I. The stars came into focus. 

          How long did we wait? I can’t tell you, but I’ll tell you this, in the quiet dark space left by our lights, something else flew in. I felt an icy grasp on my shoulder from behind, white-hot, clawing into my collarbone. I yelled and flailed, trapped by my seatbelt. 

          I fumbled the engine and lights on. MacGowan roared back to life, fiddles screaming like the devil. The deer was gone. My car was empty. I glimpsed the driver of the other vehicle in my headlights before they turned on theirs, eyes burning red in the white cradle of their skull, face gone to the bone. 

          I floored the accelerator, steering wheel in a death grip, unable to turn my face to look as I skidded past, terrified what I might see in the driver’s seat of the other vehicle.   At a safe distance I checked my rear-view mirror and saw only darkness, and that’s all I’ve seen from that day on. 

          That bend in the road I won’t drive along, that scar on my collarbone, let’s not pretend I don’t know what drew you to me, let’s not pretend we’re blessed.

N

Author's Note

On a daily walk near the end of May this year, under thick broom bushes I discovered a mound of cadmium yellow broom flowers. Fresh fallen into a bowl-shaped dip in the lush damp earth, where another creature had dug out a molehill—an ephemeral cache of gold.

F. E. Clark lives in Scotland. She is currently querying her first novel: a slow-burn, Gothic, psychological thriller set in Scotland, with a literary tone and hints of magical realism. She writes, paints, and takes photographs—inspired by nature in all its forms. Best Fifty British and Irish Flash Fiction listed, she is a Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and 2x Pushcart nominee. More details can be found in the following places - Website: www.feclark.weebly.com | Twitter: @feclarkart | Instagram: f_e_clark Bluesky: feclark@bsky.social

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