an extract from the short story: Killing the Rhino
The knife scraped butter on toast. Jacob watched it melt, a river of fat seeped through the crispy bread. He lifted the thick slice and crunched into it. He ate slowly, tasting each mouthful – a tinge of salt, wheat and bran.
Once finished, he slurped tea from his mug, washing away crumbs. The mug was stained, chipped; the tea wouldn’t taste right in any other cups, certainly not the new china ones. Jacob looked through the window over the sink, across the dry patch where grass wouldn’t grow. The boundary of the kitchen-garden was a low gathering of uneven rocks and discarded wooden posts. It wasn’t maintained and in places had tumbled apart. Nothing had existed in the garden, not since Mary left.
He tipped the tea dregs down the drain and rinsed off the things he’d used under a running tap of tepid water. He placed the items on a tea-towel to dry off, in the heat, it wouldn’t take long.
Jacob always had breakfast, alone, in the kitchen, though he could hear faint clatterings of a breakfast gathering in the main dining room. He had no reason to join them.
He wanted a smoke. Most people wouldn’t take any form of tobacco any more. He had stopped once, or twice – when Mary had pestered him about the smell and the pools of ash – it wouldn’t be given up completely. He reached up to the top of the dresser and his fingers bent around the tin – hidden from little eyes.
Despite the rising heat, Jacob wore woollen trousers, a heavy cotton shirt and the waistcoat – all were faded from sun, wind and wear. His feet were covered in scuffed walking boots. He felt a shiver and rubbed a hand across his neck. He looked down at the hand and wondered when he had got so old.
He glanced down at the tiled floor and remembered: Mary – stood with a hand on a hip and another half-raised. The raised hand held a wooden ladle and she used it to point. She pointed at the floor, the tiles – earlier washed clean, now splattered with mud and leaves and dung. Afterwards – all boots had to be removed at the steps and a boot-rack had been installed. Mary liked things to be neat.
The main doors were both open and tourists milled about between the house, the steps and the forecourt.
The truck was packed up. Adje was ready to drive them away.
Jacob shut the doors and closed the house.
the full version will be available in the collection City of Animals out soon!