Sunday, 28 September 2014

Story † Coffee-Coloured Clouds

This is a piece of flash fiction which I intended to get published in a magazine under the theme 'birthmark' but finished it a bit late. Reading back, I'm not entirely happy with it any more, and since I don't think I'll try and get it published, I'll put it here instead.

I'll try and get some more Alternative Encyclopaedia entries done soon. I promise!


She rubs at the birthmark on my arm, as if it might by some chance come off, and then suddenly says, “He had one on his knee. Your brother, I mean.”
We sit in silence, pondering the small, coffee-coloured patch on my forearm. I’m exploding inside with questions- Which knee? How big? Same colour? Same shape?- but I ask none of them. We are marked, still, with his death. I turn off the TV, since no-one is watching.

Later, showering, I catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, see my other birthmark (fainter, but the same colour and shape) on my hip. It looks like a cloud. Does that mean anything? Was I marked, from birth, to be a dreamer? To be stormy? To be cute and fluffy? To be a sheep?
And my brother’s... what shape would his have been, to die so young?

Our bodies are marked by births; our lives, by deaths.

Scientifically speaking, a birthmark is an anomaly in skin melanin. I know this. I did Biology in university, and I did it well.
So why do these coffee-coloured clouds disturb me so much?
The answer is, truthfully, they don’t. It’s his that frustrate me. I try to picture his birthmark in my mind, but it’s all lies and conjecture, too long ago. I cling to them as a link between us, something we shared, a memory to prove he existed, but I’m forgetting and have forgotten anyway. Did he even exist?

I turn off the water and surface, as though born again. When we are born, I tell my reflection, we are marked for life. The effects are forever.

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