Inch by Inch

Flash fiction Ep 2 by Jan Cornall

Photo credit: Monica Silva, Unsplash.

Louisa Greene lives alone. She’d done her time in share houses, quirky back yard sheds and garages, she even set up house with a person of the opposite sex for a few years. When it didn’t work out she wasn’t surprised. She knew deep down she wasn’t wife material, but felt she should at least give it a shot. Sure there were some good times (wild rampant sex all over the house including the red-back-spider-infested back yard shed)but she was more than shocked to see how gradually day by day, inch by inch, bits of her began to disappear. So much so, all that was left was a blurred outline of her former self standing at the kitchen sink staring out at the view. Then one August day, when the wind from the north was particularly strong, she simply wafted out the window and blew away. Which was lucky. That way they were able to avoid the drama of a messy breakup.

Louisa Greene looks at people on the street, sees couples hand in hand and wonders — how he ended up with her, her with him, him with him, her with her and so on. She observes the different ways they hold onto each other — the possessive grip, the barely touching finger brush, the casual over the shoulder sling. She remembers how comforting another hand can feel, as if it is a direct conduit to the heart — like the time after her father died when her ex took her hand on the busy street. She can remember the exact location, she could take you there now and like a local tour guide announce — this is where I experienced one of the most tender moments of my life.

Loneliness isn’t an issue for Louisa Greene. She rarely feels it. She isn’t one to lie around wishing some other bod was rubbing their fleshy bits up and down her freckled back. In fact most evenings she relishes the fact that she doesn’t have a snoring, coughing, farting, moaning, groaning, I’ve-got-a-sore-shoulder-can-you-give-me-a-massage, human being sharing her bed. Most evenings she relishes the feeling of plumping up her down pillows, of slipping beneath her light-as-a-feather, bohemian-weave douna with her latest R rated crime thriller. Most evenings Louisa Greene relishes being alone like a guilty pleasure.

Some nights Louisa Greene wakes up at 2 or 3 am with a feeling of dread. She knows the routine — it’s the old ‘ who the hell am I, why am I here, where am I going, what am I doing, what if I die tomorrow ‘ jag. Louisa Greene knows in these moments that if she does die tomorrow it is all her fault. Everything — all her fault. All her regrets — her fault, all the things she didn’t do, the things she didn’t say, the things she did/didn’t eat, all the habits she couldn’t kick — that’s what will kill her. When daylight arrives and the day progresses Louisa notices that everyone else is carrying on as if they are going to live forever, so why shouldn’t she? Still, sometimes she likes to she play a game like this one — while in the supermarket, noticing a old man’s too big shoes shuffling along the crazy zigzag patterned lino, she says to herself — what if this was the last thing I saw before I died.

When Louisa’s parents were still alive she often wondered how their end would come. Finally when they did die, she felt their stories were complete. With a shock she realised hers would always be unfinished — she would never know her ending as she would be too busy dying it and after she was dead she would be too dead to reflect on it. Those who outlived her would know, but she wouldn’t. Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember being born either. Suddenly a saying she’d once heard — there is no birth , there is no death — made more sense.

Louisa’s gentleman friend Frank, has a theory that the moment of death will be orgasmic. After all there must be a reason they call they call orgasm a little death, he says. Well, that’s what I’m hoping for, he mumbles as he bites down on another delicious afternoon tea snack she has prepared for him. That’s what I’m hoping for.

to be continued…

see earlier episodes here

Jan Cornall is a writer/performer/teacher. She has written plays, screenplays and her books, Take Me To Paradise and Archipelagogo are available here. She is currently working on a literary travel memoir about following the footsteps of the French writer Marguerite Duras in Vietnam and Cambodia. Jan also mentors writers and leads international writing workshops and retreats.

Next trips heading out:

Moroccan Caravan, Mar 4–17, 2018. A camel riding/writing adventure into the Sahara, with optional add on 5 day residency.

Haiku Walking in Japan, March 27 -April 3. Following the footsteps of Basho along the Nakasendo Way in cherry blossom time.

© Jan Cornall 2017



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Jan Cornall

Jan Cornall

Writer,traveler-leads international creativity retreats. Come write with me at