MONDAY: End of Season


Copyright is held by the author.

THE ACCEPTING trees knew it was autumn before I did, knew the sun would set before I’d circled back through the woods. In the shortened daylight they lay yellow leaves like neon arrows, drop nubby acorns like breadcrumbs to mark the dark path. Realization raises goosebumps on my bare arms. I hug myself and speed up. Off the path, a twig snaps and the ferns rustle. I jog, my feet beat a drum, a beacon: Here I am, here I am, here I am; then, here, here, here.

I sprint from the forest. Collapse on the blacktop of the cul-de-sac.

Under the lone streetlamp I breathe. Dash up the driveway.

In the flimsy cottage, heart pounding, bangs pasted to my forehead, I move quickly. Flip, flip, flip. All the light switches on. Every lamp bulb burning. Yank, yank, yank. All the curtains closed. Pretend to look for my slippers, under all the beds. Startle at the hard knock of a leopard moth battering the screen. Bolt the door.

In the living room, I lay the fireplace poker under the edge of the rug. In the bathroom, the ceramic tank lid screeches as I drop paper-wrapped razor blades into the cistern. In the kitchen, I take the butcher knife off the drying rack, wipe it gingerly and lay it at the very back of the silverware drawer.

In the small cottage, I breathe. Pause at the covered window. 

Out there, in the shed, is a curl of yellow boat rope. An axe to chop kindling. A red-tipped half-empty spray can of wasp poison. My fingers shake. Is the shed locked? In the trunk of my car, is a tire iron and a wrench. I point the remote at the window. Beep, beep, beep.

Time to settle in.

Static on the radio.

Beside the books, an unsteady pile of board games. Risk, Battleship, Stratego. Brave games, warrior games. Under dusty lids, scattered cards, red and white dice, penciled score pads. My initials beside the high scores, the winner. Near the bottom, my favourite game. Weapons, murder, mayhem.

I laugh at my childish fears. Look inside the box. The last time I won it was Colonel Mustard, in the drawing room, with a pistol. 


Image of MJ Malleck

MJ Malleck is a first-generation university graduate who grew up on the Canadian side of the US border and still likes her weather in Fahrenheit degrees. Her work has appeared in The Temz Review, Entropy, and Wrongdoing. She is working on a story collection and her first novel. Twitter: @MJMalleck

  1. Excellent. Wonderful imagery and insight.

  2. Highly visual writing. Nice, poetic opening. Sets the mood quickly and intensifies it.

  3. Terrific visuals, great imagery, taut with tension. I wasn’t sure until you mentioned the car if the narrator was a frightened girl, or an adult.

  4. Nicely done. Luv it Jill.

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