The years have made his body soft. Touched in places with freckles and raised with tiny beige moles. Still he shivers slightly as she bends down and lifts his ankle, placing his calloused foot onto her thigh. As crimson nails slip into the elastic of his sock, his body becomes less soft. It hardens in time with cotton rolling from his pale toes. He looks down and inhales her smile feeling it expand against his ribs. This woman who has pointed out the fledgling sparrows on the lawn, changed lightbulbs in their kitchen, left damp towels on the stairs for years and years and years. Anew in his eyes, reborn with each button slipped out of its hole. His chest is laid bare and her cheek rests against the thud of his heart. They have never promised each other forever, they have never placed circlets of gold on outstretched fingers to the joy of loved ones. Not in secret before the state said they could and not after it either. As her teeth find the bud of his nipple and graze a whine into his throat he wonders if it is time. The boys are grown, the house is owned, and it could be good to do the last thing.

Then his palms cup the flesh of her hips, pressing motes of winter sunlight to her skin creating a slip of taut ochre and his lips brush the short curls of her hair. It is as soft and grey as rainclouds tucked beneath his nose, the scent their grandchildren’s yogurt mingled with her soap and it evokes the knowledge that their history, which never needed acceptance, is already well accounted for.

Hannah Clark lives in Manchester and is an MA student at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying Creative Writing. She is currently working on her first novel and is a freelance writer for The Skinny magazine. Her fictional work has appeared on


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