Margaret Kiernan – A stranger comes to town

Kiernan LE P&W Jan 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023

A stranger comes to town, flash fiction by Margaret Kiernan.

The old stone building began its life as a town prison in eighteen sixty in what the local Chronicle newspaper described as dangerous times.

Grey exterior walls still stand strong to the north wind blowing down off the main street, earthen floors and pocked walls manipulate the shadows, where giant spiders cast their looms wide.

Metal rusty grilles cover windows, blocking out light, only blue-black shapes drift.

The sky was still dark when Leigh arrived. She accidentally stepped into a puddle from the river overspill, where leaves floated. Her left Converse boot filled with water. She hums to herself to keep fear at bay, as tentacles of spiders’ webs enmesh in her golden hair. She makes tentative grabs to pull bits out.

Determined to keep going, she strides down a long corridor, opening doors as she goes, peers inside and then move on.

On the first floor she steps into a room with a green door. Pausing, she looks about and then closes out the door from within.

An ancient looking clock on the wall, still with burnished hands, stopped at eight twenty-three. It doesn’t say which year.

Leigh looks at her own wrist, she sets a timer and goes to work.

Down in the garden there is a fountain beside a two-hundred-year-old yew tree. Gravestones stand engraved against the midday sky.

For moments, Leigh stands looking, and she remembers an Italian garden with a warrior seated on a Verdigris sculpted horse, arm aloft. She now wishes it were her turn to be in Paris, in Montmartre, hearing a jazz-band above the Seine, watch the white- domed Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur on the summit.

Deep down in her heart she knew it could not be. The thought caused her eyes to water up, blinking as one tear drop lands on her Homer Simpson shoelace.

Her wrist alarm goes off and sounds shrill in the sun filled garden.

© Margaret Kiernan

Margaret Kiernan has a background in Public Policy and Social Justice. She writes poetry and short stories.She also paints landscapes in mixed media. She is published in, The Blue Nib Literary Journal, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Burrow at Old-water-rat publishing Australia, The Galway Review, Poet Head, A New Ulster, Anthologies, and Cultural news magazines. She is listed in The Index of Contemporary Women Poets in Ireland, 2020. She writes with the Thursday Group of poets, at Over -the-Edge, Galway. Is also a member of Ox Mountain poets.

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