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News & Features » May 2020 » “Each Night” by Christopher Moore

“Each Night” by Christopher Moore

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a widow learns to cope with her grief. 

Each Night
by Christopher Moore
The Village, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Her Mum thinks it’s a bereavement group. The kids think it’s a ‘special class’ that will make mummy better and smarter. Age-appropriate lies, but both have done the trick, as she’s never had to make excuses again beyond the first couple of times. Michael and Saoirse simply wave her off with good luck wishes, and her mother gives her a gentle squeeze of the hand, and each day, at 5pm, she’s off out of the house, down onto the Lisburn Road, and heading towards the Village within a matter of minutes.

It is a bereavement group of sorts. It’s certainly a means of coping with grief. In that sense, she doesn’t feel too much guilt about deceiving her mother, other than a brief, slight niggle just before she leaves, when the old woman throws her a hopeful smile and clasps her hand in her warm, aged ones, communicating the sympathy and support she’d almost certainly withdraw if she knew the truth. The children, she doesn’t have any qualms about lying to—they’re too small to understand adult realities.

Perhaps a bereavement group would be the healthier choice. A way of expelling her hurt and anger in a quiet, safe way that might rid her of her frustrations. Perhaps a night class, as the kids believe, would be a productive, meaningful way of improving herself at the same time as finding a much-needed distraction from the chasm of grief and loss at the centre of her life. But she’s never been that woman. The type to hide away and recover in private, lick her wounds and busy herself until she’s ready to reemerge as a productive member of society. That’s not the sort of woman he fell in love with. The woman he married was a woman of passion, of conviction, of intent and purpose and fierce determination, and so she’ll be damned if she disappoints both of them in death. If anything, it galvanizes her more than anything ever did before.

It’s on the other side of South Belfast. A solid two miles from her mother’s plush townhouse. She walks every step, through the side streets, the laneways, the Loyalist estates strewn with British flags and paraphernalia, unwilling to consider so much as setting foot inside a car after she saw him being ripped apart by fire into ash and bone the last time he sat in one. Her throat catches, and tears of rage wet her eyes once she’s out from under the glow of the street lights, as she curses herself for the thousandth time for not checking under the vehicle that day, or insisting he do the same. All because they’d been “in a rush”. And now one of them would never be in a rush again. If she hadn’t dashed back into the house for her purse, the children would be orphans now.

The memories are purposefully cast aside as she finally leaves the Donegall Road, arrives, and steps up to the door, suppressed for now as she rings the bell and waits, tapping her foot on the step and arching an eyebrow the longer it takes for someone to come. The odd time she’s left waiting for more than a minute, a few withering looks are enough to elicit nervous apologies from whoever’s on door duty that night.

Inside, she’s led down a series of hallways and the stairs down to the basement at the back of the old house, too gutted by a fire years ago to be suspected of anything other than a health hazard by anyone who might pass it. She inwardly sneers at the thought. Seeing your lover’s body consumed by a blast of flame renders the phrase ‘health hazard’ redundant.

At the bottom of the steps, she’s led through the door into the meeting room, where plans are spread out across the centre table, maps dotted with markings and photos, littering her vision with faces that make her burn with hatred. And there, in the one place that makes her feel truly powerful, with routine efficiency that would inspire horror in her mother and pride in her late husband, she’s asked by the men which target to prepare a bomb for next.

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CHRISTOPHER MOORE is a Northern Irish writer, and a graduate of English from Queen’s University Belfast, as well as the MA in TV Fiction Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University. He is also an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. Alongside a number of playwriting achievements, including being longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize, he has had a number of pieces of short fiction performed and published in the UK, Ireland, and US.

 

 

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Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: May 4, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



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