A Half-Eaten Breakfast in Caithness

Writing by Molly MacLean. Illustration by Celeste John-Wood.


The sudden flush of dawn had stirred something vile. Collapsed upon the bed lay the final plume of morning’s dark, perfectly settled – quite undisturbed by the yellow fingers that stalked over curtains and picture frame.

With eyes like a torx, consciousness returned to the pallid face of the sleeper.

–Indigo we go.

Reach around, slosh. No one there. Expecting no one. Tueew-wWed Wednesday, naw.

No one today.

Shapes crouching by the bed are saying their goodbyes in the light. Coffee swelling down a filter.

Waking tongue, working tongue. Stretch back into the night. Indigo we go.

SongsFromARoomAlarm.

The bugger still can’t understand why his arm is not a lilac tree. My arm is not a lilac tree. Beautiful question. Poets always ask beautiful questions. ‘Fuck God’ he says.

 There we go now. Eyes open. Good. Like two opals. Couple of golf balls on a green. My face in this tepid light. Death mask. Yield today’s first, fart to the Pharaohs and rise

                                                                                         …

 Kitchen calling. Greasy spoons. Last night left it a purple cave. Blinds half alert, sleep half collected in mildewed sills. Dew festoons and wood-rot bills. Door opens to a wall of. One big ashtray. Closes like a box of.

 Crummy table. Crummy toes. Slightly damp. Sticky – always the little bits, crumbs. And cat-litter-croquette-soles.

 Ah sit down then, can clean up later. Mind your feet and your head while you’re at it. Sunday Herald. Four days past its sell-by date. Nothing much happening anyway. Never going off. Same things. Self-preserving. Pectin headlines. Sheep on North Point Road at the fences again and the union wars and the Americans. News? Feck.

 Carunchmunchmunch

–Marmalade I like marmalade.

 In a half-swallowed voice, Christ I could write that. A bit louder now, A blind monkey with brass balls and a badger’s arse could write that. Grey, it’s all grey. Ancient blue of rolling sky and rivers fading to grey ‘neath the corrosive beam of the national dentist’s lamp.

Shakes head and splutters toast. Laughing comes out quite big bits. Or pimped up to gaudy radium for energy adds. Hoho– Roll up roll up they’ve got oil and toil. What’s happening today? Ah not so much. Want to hear about the weather? Aye. It’s grey. We’re grey. It’s all bloody grey.

Plane chortles over distant chimneys.

 Passenger plane! Thank Christ. Not the sirens, not the plant. Not the end today hoho.

 Fffffsifflewwwsss. Good tea unites good company and I’m all on my own. British summer time and I’m wearing a jumper.

 Pppurroww.

–Aw wee Stumpy stumps. Contented wee beastie. Sleek, strong, back like fallen snow. Shame about the front paw golf cart incident. Took it straight off. I wasn’t there to see it mind but she said it was a clean cut. You remind me of her you do, make me think of the times.

Make time. Make Tetley.

–Some more biscuits for my wee one-armed bandit? Beautiful cat. Pat pat pat.

Tea vapours. Inward nose whistle.

–Ten already! It is in your bollocks!



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