This poem is taken from Stand 230, 19(2) June - July 2021.

Clare Rose Chafing
She reached one arm down beside her bed, her fingers searching blindly for her phone. She could smell herself as she moved, the dank scent of her insides. The screen of the phone was cracked, a spider’s web of broken glass.

The windows were closed, because opening the windows made her feel hotter. The air wasn’t moving, and the sounds outside were hot. She could feel the burning metal of the passing cars in the sound of their engines. She could feel the sweat on the bodies whose voices pushed upwards. She couldn’t hear any birds, probably because they were dead, and the sound of their death was hot.

Messages from her friends filled the screen. There were always new messages. Photos of Michelle in two different bikini tops, contorted in front of her mirror, her brother asleep in the chair behind her. Alex asking about the work they’d been set from school. Erin hadn’t even opened the folder. School had ended. She couldn’t quite remember if it was because of the heat, or if school would have ended anyway. The normal rhythms had faded quickly. Yeah, we’re going. This was what she’d been looking for. After dinner. 8.30 I guess? They all went to the pool, every night, apart from the ones that didn’t. Maria and Amy, the twins, whose parents wouldn’t let them. Sam, who no one had heard from since school finished.

She texted Sabrina in the next room. Leaving at 8. She could hear the buzz of her sister’s phone travelling through the floorboards that connected their rooms, then her sister’s weight shifting from her bed through her feet and across the hallway, pushing open the door.

‘Have you got wipes?’
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