The other rooms are clear and the floor is tidy you look for the black cloud but all you see is brightness…..”


by christine tothill



You walk along in life and then BANG it comes up like a black cloud covering you, surrounding you. You can’t breathe or see – you are suffocating.

You make a plan in your head, you make plans with other people but they don’t understand at all what is going on. You try your best to go on, day by day, within the black cloud. Every morning moulds into a nightmare, day after day being longer, colder, darker.

You do the normal things, cook, wash, sleep but hey are they normal at all? What is normal? You ask these questions all the time – when it is peaceful, when it is night and you are downstairs – picking at food from the icebox, when you see rotten cheese, and mouldy ham, when you can’t sleep. You are frightened to put things in order, they actually don’t go in order, they are all muddled – all over the place. You make lists, tear them up. You make sure you don’t forget. You are taking the life out of a life and it feels as if you are not living at all.

You wake up one morning out of twenty and it is bright – it is sunny, people are walking by, laughing together – arm in arm and happy. The grass looks greener and the tulips are blooming, the birds singing. You walk into the bathroom; it seems airier and smells so so sweet.

The other rooms are clear and the floor is tidy you look for the black cloud but all you see is brightness. You open the icebox and the food is glistening, asking to be baked, grilled or just tossed. The tomatoes are red the radishes redder, the cheese is appetisingly sitting on a plate with grapes surrounding it and the icebox hums like a song.

You hear a door slam, the tread on the stair and the icebox turns off and shudders under your hand. You close the door and turn around into the black and the darkness of the room.

You go upstairs into the room where there is peace, where there is quiet and dark where you escape to when you want to. You try to write the journal but it makes no sense once written down.

You read the muddle back and cross it out with a red ballpoint. Red drips over the page and you doodle a bit and it feels good; it relieves you while you play but you notice the picture is a red prison, bars are close together, no windows – it is a cell – you tear the page from the journal and crunch it in your hand and it feels good to do that.

Just that.

Originally published:
Issue Sixty-Three
April 2012



Christine Tothill is British and lives in Spain. She writes short fiction, flashes and articles. Christine has published work in UK and Spain. She writes with Alex Keegan’s online Boot Camp and plays the organ in any other spare time she has, which is hardly ever. Much more from Christine Tothill can be found in the Vault of Smoke.

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