:: Article

Steph n Deaf

New fiction by Jay Merill, with a painting by Anastasia Kashian.

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steph n deaf

I’m Steph and my man eeze deaf. We lost our place cause we couldn’t keep up with the bills so we’re squatting this broke down van back of a building-site. Right now we’re a-walking along the Marylebone Road from Baker Street. Have to go slow cause E can’t keep up. Hasn’t been hisself since E drove is bike into them petrol pumps. Eeze lookin well, you’d never think there was sumpthink the matter with im.

But there is.

Day’s that ot. Ere we are a-sitting in Regent’s Park. We always comes ere when the weather’s good. E used to ave blond air now E’s got grey air, soon E’ll ave no air. But still got that bloody bike over at his sister’s place.

I says to im, “You don’t want to get rid of that bike, do you?” An E says nuffink.  Just looks skywards as though at stars.

I says to him, “You can’t ear me, can you?”

An E can’t ear me saying E can’t ear me.

Not that E’d remember what I’ve just said even if he could av eard me.

E likes being in the Park.  E picks up a stone and puts it on the side of the path, and then picks up another and puts it next to the first one.  Then E sits and looks at the two stones. An hour goes by. At last E picks up the first stone and puts it back where it was, or somewhere else if E can’t remember where E’d found it. Does it all very slow and methodical like as though E knows what E’s doin.

Only E don’t know.

Used to ave long air now he’s got short air, soon E’ll ave no air. Drove straight into them petrol-pumps. E don’t know why E did it. World went black and that was that. Now E as to go to orspital every Friday as E as to ave blood. That takes it out of im. Gets ever so tired E does an last week they never ad the right blood come an we ad to go back on the Saturday. E was that ill E was and E couldn’t stop sneezing. E picks up every little cold that’s going around. Got no immunity. Could catch anythink and snuff it just like that .

It’s so ot outside. I goes in the café in the Park and I gets a beer out of the fridge and I puts it to is lips. E sips a bit then E swallers a bit but there’s no pleasure in it for him. An that’s an awful shame. Liked to ave a few when E was isself like. E don’t spit out the beer but E don’t enjoy it neither. Not like E did.

Then I gives im a bit of bread for the ducks and E trundles down towards the pond and stares at it. Keeps im busy, if you can say busy now. But you can’t tell what’s goin through is mind. E never was one to show is feelings even when E was right in the ead.

I says to im, “Shall we get rid of the bike as it’s all shut up at Maggie’s and no use to anyone like that?” But E looks at me and I looks at im, and I sez, “Nah, we’ll keep it,” an I squeezes is and, just to let im know E doesn’t av to worry. It’d give me a funny feelin to let the bike go. Would be like a death.

I say, “Remember ow you drove right into them petrol pumps?” an E just stares.

There’s no arm in im, always was a lovely feller. E don’t ave a bad bone in is ole body an that’s the truth. I likes to think E’s appy in is own way and am pretty sure E is. See, it don’t really matter if E can’t ear me cos we understands one another. Who gives a fig if E can’t do this an E can’t do that?  It aint important.  Not to me it aint, no never.

I don’t care if E can’t do nuffink, as long as Eeze ere.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jay Merill has fiction in recent or forthcoming issues of Anomalous Press, Crack the Spine, Corium, Night Train, SmokeLong Quarterly, Spork, Citron Review, Apeiron Review, Eunoia Review, The Legendary, Blue Lake Review, the Newer York and Vine Leaves Press. Her mini series of flash monologues of rough sleepers in London UK was published in the Big Issue in 2013.  Jay’s story ‘As Birds Fly’ won the Salt Short Story Prize and is included in the Salt Anthology of New Writing, 2013. She is the author of two short story collections: God of the Pigeons (Salt, 2010) and Astral Bodies (Salt, 2007), and has been nominated for the Frank O’Connor Award and Edge Hill Prize.  Jay has an Award from Arts Council England and is Writer in Residence at Women in Publishing.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Anastasia Kashian is a self-taught artist, and failed anthropologist, based in West Wales and Andalucia. You can find her on Twitter, and see more of her work on  Facebook, and on her website.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, January 26th, 2015.