The Left Behind

By Die Booth

There’s a city where a day has lasted half a century.

The sea is still turquoise as a colour-postcard around Kadana’s concrete seams, but armed guards stalk the barrier around the clock. Nobody in; nobody alive in there to come out.

If you stand on the wall, you can still see, despite the unchecked growth of olive trees. Martin cranes his neck, the sun shimmering heat haze off the dirty white walls, the terracotta roofs. The swimming pool where he met his first girlfriend evaporated like magic, weeds pulling apart the fabric of man, retailoring it to nature’s fit. The bright red umbrellas of the pavement café where he kissed his first boyfriend beneath a sky full of stars have paled away: under settled dust, the city bleaches to a mirage; a catch of breath you don’t move on from.

Now, feral cats sentry resort balconies and howl. The car Martin bought as a young man still sits in the showroom, separated from him by miles and decades. He’d meant to pick it up the day the city fled. The sirens spoke otherwise. The terror of an invisible enemy. Now all that’s left are the ghosts.

“Why do you watch?” Sofie asks. She looks as bleached as the city, now. “You can’t have anything back from in there. They won’t let you.”

Martin shrugs. His eyes scan the distant, whispering streets.

“It’s empty. Leave it. We all left. There’s nothing left.”

“There’s always something left.”

“But we got out.” Her voice seems to say, didn’t we? Her eyes are anxious. Transparent.

Martin looks at her with pity, and then back to Kadana.

“What did you leave in there, Martin?” She doesn’t know. Her voice sounds like the settling of ash. “What did you leave behind?”

Die Booth enjoys painting pictures and exploring dark places. When not writing wild lies, he chairs Chester Writers, and DJs at Chester’s only goth night. You can read his stories in places like The Fiction Desk, Firewords Quarterly and The Cheshire Prize for Literature anthologies. His short story collections ‘My Glass is Runn’ and ‘365 Lies’ are available online, as well as his novel ‘Spirit Houses’. He’s currently working on a collection of spooky short stories featuring transgender protagonists.

Twitter: @diebooth