becalmed by Mark Mayes

The room was filling up with water. You couldn’t see it, but you knew it. The water might be blood, what would it matter? You wade from room to room, like a fisherman, but with no rod. This must be strengthening your quadriceps. Make you fanciable. Could put it on your dating profile. Big legs from wading through blood, or water. 

You got to enjoy being lonely. Really revel in it. It can almost make you sploodge. But not quite. 

The postman always knocks once. You’ve never known him to knock twice. They don’t get paid for that. Friends from many years ago send you books. The postman leaves them on the mat outside. You go to the window and watch the van leaving. A cat sees you, gives you the dark eye – you can sense it even from there. Or here. Cats know.

Could you love again? Have sex again? It doesn’t seem likely. You even hate to shower, so strong is your disgust for your flesh. When you shower, you close your eyes. And your hands have to do the dirty work, slathering over your fat, your wasted muscle. These details should not go on your dating profile – not yet, anyway. 

Still, you will need to get a job soon. Some terrible job which will probably finish you off. You’ll need to polish up your old fake masks. Leave your true masks to rot behind the washing machine.

For now, you let the water, or blood, lap under your chin. Perhaps you will drown before you are called back into the world. They will find you floating somewhere near the ceiling, arms and legs moving gently from some unknown current. They just might leave you that way, thinking it better to leave the sea-changed, the blood-altered, float forever in perfect peace. 

Mark Mayes writes fiction, poems, and songs. He has written two novels: ‘The Blue Box’, and ‘The Grass Below’, as well as a children’s book – ‘Is it Tomorrow Yet?’ Find out more about Mark at or

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