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Rowan MacDonald

After the Wake

Winter Trees III by Judith Skillman

They were his. Cardboard boxes stacked high like past games of Jenga. Chopped wood lay outside, witness to therapy. Rain pummelled the tin roof, echoed throughout. Small leak in the corner. The shed was nothing flash, and just like the house, had seen better days.

“So much junk,” she sighed.

Cobwebs wrapped themselves around everything. He opened a musty box, disturbed layers of grit.

“Careful,” she said. “Something could be living in those.”

He placed the boots on the concrete floor, retrieved a dusty Championship flag, misshapen football, trophy without its head. Moved onto yellowed, dog-eared magazines, balanced in piles.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

He watched her deliver CPR to something, whooshing sound mixed with water running from the spouting. She turned around, held up the shrunken football and pump.

“Wonder if there’s life in the old girl,” she grinned.

He nodded, bent down, attacked another box, wondered what it contained. Suddenly gasped, lifted a small item into the air. Wooden hot rod, flames painted along the sides.

“Check it out,” he said. “Can’t believe he kept it!”

“Ah, the first car you worked on,” she laughed. “Start of it all.”

“Worked on this together,” he smiled. “Thought it was lost.”

Passing shower stopped; crack of light appeared. He knelt, opened a green suitcase, airline tags still attached, and then he saw them. They were orange corduroy; rusted type, corroding like the old water tank in coastal air, relics of a past life. He slipped his legs inside.

“God,” she moaned. “Not exactly flattering!”

Hands immersed themselves in loose pockets; time traveling, forever basking in memories.

“Please,” she begged. “Tell me you’re throwing those out!”

“I can’t,” he explained, voice-wavering. “They were his.”

About the writer:
Rowan MacDonald lives in Tasmania with his dog, Rosie. His words have been published in journals around the world, including most recently: The Ocotillo Review, Paper Dragon, Defunct Magazine, White Wall Review and The Ignatian Literary Magazine. His work has also been adapted into short film by New Form Digital.

Image: Winter Trees III by Judith Skillman (contemporary). Mixed media on canvas. No size specified. By 2022. By permission. Judith Skillman paints expressionist works in oil on canvas, sometimes with organic material integrated such as robins eggs, sticks, and leaves. She is interested in feelings engendered by the natural world. Her art has appeared in Windmill, Artemis, The Penn Review, Twenty-two Twenty-eight, and other journals. Skillman studied at McDaniel College and the Pratt Fine Arts Center. She is a member of the Seattle Artist’s League.

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