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G Marsh

Writer/Student

Liverpool, UK

Gabby Marsh is a writer studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of

Manchester, currently in their second year. So far they’ve had one short story, ‘Moved’

published in Horla Magazine and a poem ‘When Nothing is Said and Done’ published in Impspired

Parallel Lines

Jun 23, 2023 11 months ago

The seat trembled as she bounced into it. The vertical line on her word document phased in and out of reality, waiting for permission to move. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to summon up a memory. Feet splashing in puddles that reflected the lamplight. Hurried breathing. A clammy hand. But her clock ticked, and she opened her eyes. And then, she found herself staring out the same window that she'd stared out of every morning this year. Every morning. What could she write about? All her dialogue seemed disconnected from reality. No proper human connection between the arial font. Sighing, she ran her hands over her face and groaned. Her finger hover over a group chat. But her mind was blank. The vertical line in her text box urged her onward. But she had nothing to say. Fresh air. Yeah, that must be it. Getting dressed was a chore in itself. Her white and blue pants, dotted with childish bear patterns, were undeniably pyjamas. She hoped the pandemic would give her a fashion pass on this one. She pulled a book off the shelf and threw it in her bag. If she brought it with her, she could justify the walk as prep for school. Then she was doing something, at least. The sun ran between the clouds, flashes of warmth on her face before the chill. The air seemed to be grey itself. She ran her thumb over the pages. The book described a sunny day out in Brighton, with music, bright souvenirs and the seaside. It made her nostalgic for a place she'd never been to. A huge metal bridge with splotchy blue paint leaned over the canal. Feet clanked against it. A couple, walking their dog. The sight of the huge black dog, with his fur poofing out on his neck, almost made her tear up. She blinked. What was that about? “Mornin,” the woman holding the lead said. She opened her mouth to say something, but found she couldn't get a single syllable out. Instead she nodded and waved. The other woman's eyes crinkled up in a smile. Her feet started to clank against the bridge as berry bushes curled up to poke her. She had to do a sort of dance to avoid them. Every detail of this day was too vibrant. Too much. The birds tweeted and something heated in her chest. Then it was too warm. A huge rock jutted out over the canal, cracked into a sort of step. A middle aged woman was sitting on it, clutching a grey Ipod. She was staring out at the ducks and geese in the canal. “Do you mind if I sit here?” she asked, pointing to the other side of the rock. “Oh yeah, I'm about to go anyway, I don't want to get in your way,” the woman said, holding up her hands a little. She jolted in panic. The rock went on for so long. Sitting up here, alone? It didn't sound appealing. “No, no, I don't mind you being here.” They both settled onto the rock. They didn't talk. The younger woman opened her book, and got lost in the sights and lights of Brighton. The older woman watched a brown duck charge at a green one. A goose honked, intervening in the duck fight. The younger woman put her book down and watched the geese fight. She liked geese. They made funny sounds, and were so vicious. She thought that maybe the older woman thought something similar, because her expression was soft as she watched them. It felt like she was reading with a family member in her room. A quiet downtime shared with company. The atmosphere was just so welcoming. The warm feeling in her chest still glided, up and down. She worked her way through an entire chapter before a family walked over, struggling to push a pram up the rock. The dad gave up, picking up the pram and placing it on the smooth bit. “We need to feed them dad, hurry up!” the daughter yelled. A small boy emerged from the pram, repeating what she said. “You shouldn't copy everything your sister says, Rob,” their dad chastised. “He doesn't!” his sister said. Rob repeated it. Putting her book down, she smiled, pulling herself away from Brighton. The older woman, or ‘duck woman' as she had mentally nicknamed her, waved at the family. Rob waved back with his tiny hands, even though he was still looking at his sister. Duck woman stood and made room for the family, and then walked off down the path. The younger woman found she couldn't read more than a page after the duck woman left. She stood up and went home. Her coat rustle was so loud in the hallway. Everything was still so vibrant. The white walls, the dust bunched at the corners of the stairs. Her slippers slapped against the stairs. She bounced into her chair again, and opened her laptop. The vertical line waited for permission to move. ‘The duck woman sat motionless, watching over the canal on a day that sat motionless with her.'

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