After the Fall: A Survival Guide
Pay attention when the goat pronks, tremulous with alarm, and starts head-butting your fence. Stay alert when your mother, the star, arrows into your lawn, quivering en pointe, face like a grapefruit, sour and pitted from decades travelling through space, the unavoidable debris, course-altering collisions.
Understand she might have overdone things on the twinkling front.
Worry about the potential for contamination, dangerous levels of radiation, the difficulty of maintaining your safe distance.
Don't be distracted by the goat. Be distracted by the goat when it splinters a fence panel and starts chomping next door's privet. Pull off a sandal. Throw it. Miss.
Turn back to your mother, the star.
This is how to open the conversation with a fallen star. Raise your right hand, like in the movies, palm out, fingers spread. This is also how you close a conversation. Understand you will almost always send the wrong signals in the shapes and sounds you make with your mouth.
Kick off your other sandal, to restore some balance. Squirm your feet into a patch of clover. Let the deep green shine of it settle in your heart. Concentrate on how your toes might safely root themselves. Think about what might happen if you just stop looking up, stop looking out, if you close your eyes and keep them closed.
Don't close your eyes.
Screw up your face till everything blurs and all you can see are disconnected pieces. This yearning hour, this garden, this star, this ever-hungry goat. Relax. Let the pieces come together.
Watch the star droop like a flag on a still day. Watch the star become transparent, the watery greens and browns and blues from the world's backdrop seeping and spreading into her folds. Watch the goat back away from the privet. Watch the goat nudge the fading star towards you.
Step lightly through bladed grass, arms reaching, eyes open.
lives between the sea and the moor in the south west UK. She has stories in Splonk, Fictive Dream, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary
and elsewhere, including Bath Flash Fiction Award
anthologies. Her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net and Best Microfictions. Her novella-in-flash, The Listening Project
(Ad Hoc Fiction 2021), received a special mention in the 2022 Saboteur Awards. Find her @Ali_McGrane_UK