Ghosts in the Morning - By Will Thurmann


I felt myself shaking, I saw blood soaking my towel, but the throbbing in my hand had disappeared, endorphins and adrenaline numbing the pain. My mind raced and blood rushed in my ears, like a brutal, incoming tide. A clock began to tick in my head.

‘Please press one to replay this message, two to save this message, three to delete this message...’

I pressed three, my fingers growing steadier, as my brain tugged and pulled at strands, trying to make sense of them, to bring order...shit, there wasn’t much time.

The door slammed. That bloody door would never be fixed now, I knew that. I put Graham’s mobile phone down and grabbed some toilet paper from the bathroom. I wound it tightly around my hand to stem the bleeding. I put my dressing gown on and scooped up the bath towel with its coppery-red stains and thrust it quickly into the washing basket.

Graham appeared at the doorway. His face was red. ‘Alright,’ he grunted.

My mind kept churning, knitting fronds. Tick tock tick tock.

‘Alright,’ I replied. I nodded towards his wind-burned cheeks and the unkempt wisps of his hair. ‘It must have been very blustery and cold up at the cemetery. You look like you’re freezing.’

The clock was inexorably ticking, it was screaming in my head. Tick tock went the second hand, but it was getting faster. Tick tock tick tock tick tock.

‘Yes, I am a bit, yes, it’s a bit parky out there. I wouldn’t want to be on a boat in those gales, that’s for sure.’

The clock was gaining more speed, its second hand was whizzing in my mind. Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock. I tried to focus on it, to will it to stop its incessant spinning. Round and round, as my mind furiously continued to play with little cat’s cradles of feathery string, desperately trying to form a pattern. I needed clarity, tried to force it from beneath the swirls of fog around the string.

Tick tock tick tock, the clock had got louder too, it was pounding in my head, I could feel the pendulum crashing against the inside of my forehead.

I took a deep breath and willed my mind to calm and then slowly, gradually, I felt my heart begin to slow its hammering at my chest, and I felt the storm in the waters of my brain begin to abate. Images flitted across my inner vision, options...I could get away from here, get away from this house, this island, I could run and not stop running. Perhaps I could make a new life for myself on the mainland, I’d often thought about it. I could change my name, start afresh, I could put all the bad stuff behind me. People did that sometimes, they re-invented themselves, there was that movie once...yes, maybe that’s what I should do. A new life, a new me, I liked the sound of that.

‘Are you okay?’ Graham asked. ‘You look like you’re in a dream.’

‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ I murmured, as the idea of running began to dissipate. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t just go, it wouldn’t work, I had the boys to think about. And I would never be able to relax, I would be looking over my shoulder every five minutes. No, I didn’t want to live like that.

Tick tock tick tock.

My head started to ache again, then suddenly through the chiming mist, new patterns began to emerge. A shimmering embroidery of thoughts, And the throbbing in my head subsided as the mist cleared completely.

‘Yes, right!’ I shouted, and I saw Graham jump.

‘What the –’

‘Sorry, Graham, sorry, I, I was just thinking...oh nothing, nothing. Anyway, look, I’ve just had a bath, the water’s still nice and hot. Why don’t you jump in, it’ll warm you up?’

‘Oh, I don’t know, I’ll maybe have a quick shower later. I was just going to sit down, watch a film, maybe.’

‘Oh right.’ Think, Andrea, keep going. ‘Look, I tell you what, I’ll get you a nice big glass of cold wine, while you have a hot bath – you don’t want to catch a chill, do you? Then you can sit down in front of the TV, put your feet up. I’ve got a few bits to do in the kitchen, and the boys are out, so you can have some peace, you can watch what you want with another nice glass of wine in your hand.’

‘Why are you suddenly being so nice?’ Graham’s tone was sharp, tinged