You’ve always been afraid of tunnels, turnings where you can’t see what’s round the bend—it might be a man with a flame thrower, or it might be Swanny Fred from Mr. Robertson’s class; Swanny Fred who throws chalk at you and lifts your skirt, and you hate him, especially today when the boys have dared the girls to go down into the air raid shelter through the trapdoor, and you’ve gone, and so has Bryony Fawcett, and the boys have slammed the door shut and Bryony screams so you scream—and years later, Swanny Fred shows you his gold tooth and you scream again because you know how hard he bites, and however much he claims to tuck up his daughters at night and take his sons kite-flying, you don’t believe a word of it and that gap between his teeth is a gateway to Hades, a river of spittle and drool.
You have nightmares about paddling a coracle, getting shipwrecked in his mucus-filled larynx until he coughs you up and laughs, so you scream again and he says, “Don’t you want to see the pretty little fishes?”
The pretty fishes that swim in a spurt of mucus? There aren’t any fishes, it’s something worse, and you do notwant to see that or taste that or feel that or smell that, but he’s bigger and stronger than you and he’s spiked your vodka, or he must have done because there’s no wayyou’d ever go with Swanny Fred—he slammed the trapdoor shut long ago, and you just know he’ll slam it again, and you don’t have Bryony Fawcett with you this time to scream along—it’s just you and Fred, and he’s smiling as if he’s nice, but he isn’t nice, and he lives in a tunnel, and there’s Greek fire round the corner, and you’ll go up like a Roman candle, and he’ll laugh and the sparks will reflect off his gold teeth and the spittle on his chin, and you’ll scream and the next morning—
The next morning. Oh god.
Prolific writer and artist Catherine Edmunds has more than 450 published works to her name. Solo works for Circaidy Gregory Press include the poetry collection ‘wormwood, earth and honey’; the magical realism novel ‘Small Poisons’ – a contemporary tale for Midsummer Night’s dreamers; and ‘Serpentine’, which explores what happens when art doesn’t only reflect life but is life itself. Her latest novel is ‘Bacchus Wynd’, an intense tale of personal re-invention set in North-East England. http://www.freewebs.com/catherineedmunds/