I am dressed in a shirt that belonged to a younger me. The buttons drag fabric as they reach for each other, come undone at the centre of my chest. They cannot contain my bloated stomach.
I am a pavilion, tension and awning and curtain and canopy. I sway and creak in the breeze.
I am waiting for something to happen to me. Dandelion seeds scatter uselessly over the sun-baked soil. My pulse has dropped to a single beat a minute. All the fairy clocks have stopped.
I am sitting in my parents’ garden. Somewhere far away, an ice-cream van chimes and shudders.
I am blown-glass candle holders, filament bulbs strung in branches, a small stone fountain overgrown with moss, deckchairs specked with bird shit, a long-abandoned trampoline.
I am grass the texture of straw, clinging to life where I can, like ivy sticking in brickwork.
I am bathed in ash. Colour is all I can think about – cinereous greys, flecks of black, a clash of abalone and faded flax, rust-brown and sand-brown and ochre, the pale stone of quarry walls.
I am so scared.
I am surrounded by dead butterflies. They stir in the wind, encircle me in fits and starts, like offal scattered in the aftermath of a pagan ritual. They are indistinguishable from rotting leaves.
I am listening to birdsong, to the distant hollers of golfers, to the secrets trees tell one another.
I am the weight of the sky. One day soon I will bear down on this picket-fence box of wasps’ nests and mounted birdfeeders and ornamental rocks, and crush them into so much dust.
I am at the surface of all this, eidolon of my space, like a granite face in a temple. I am this place.
Alex Aldred lives and works in Edinburgh, where he is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing. His work has previously been published by Daily Science Fiction, the Cordite Review, the Molotov Cocktail, and more. You can find him on twitter @itsmealexaldred, or visit his website at www.alexaldred.co.uk. At night, his stories climb out of his laptop and play tricks on him.