A Memento of Summer

Running down a central reservation in last night’s red dress
And I can still smell you on my fingers and taste you on my breath
It’s like living in the middle of the ocean
With no future, no past


I’m in a trance. It’s a nice feeling. This must be how bees feel when they’ve pollinated a tender flower.

If you were a fan of cheesy wordplay, you could say I’m buzzing. I’ve not had a night like that with a man before.

And now the walk home in the cool late summer morning through a cow-filled meadow. This is my favourite time of the year. There’s a natural underlying warmth to the air but there’s a fresh breeze  which catches my arms and sends a little chill through my body. The future beefburger creatures just stare at me.

I don’t know what happened to my shoes but the feel of the moist grass on my dirty feet somehow lifts me even higher. Huge trees are ahead of me and I can hear the sound of traffic beyond them.

I pass through the trees, the smell of cars and urbanity begins to hit me and a little wave of self-consciousness hits me. I’m at a dual carriageway wearing little more than the red dress I wore to his house last night.

The road is pretty quiet so I skip over the road towards the central reservation.  A lorry goes by and peeps his horn. Even the pesky pervos can’t get me down today. I hop over the barrier next to the overtaking lane and on to the grass again.

Last night was so intense, shame it ended in a big argument but that’s how these happen. He lost his head and I lost mine, I suppose. I really can’t deal with arguments and shouting and name-calling. It’s not my scene.

It was all forgotten by morning and I felt like a weight had been lifted off the ol’ shoulders. Today’s another adventure isn’t it?

Another lorry goes by and more horn-parping follows. Have they never seen a lass wander down a road at 7am on a Sunday morning? This time a car rolls by and something is shouted out the window by a funny-looking young woman. I wave at her.

The amount of people paying me attention is funny. I start skipping down the road. I’ve never felt as light as this. I have literally not a care in the world today.

I skip for what seems like hours. Who knows how long it is? I see a roundabout ahead. I’m disappointed that the long straight road is being interrupted by this big round thing.

Actually, I’m a bit tired now. Perhaps last night’s physical exertions have taken their toll on me. Pretty hungry too, come to think of it.

I arrive at the junction and look for a spot to cross. The middle of the roundabout is grassy too, and raises to a mound in the middle and it’s filled with flowers. It looks a nice place for a picnic if you’re a fan of staring at roads.

A car pulls up beside and brakes. The passenger in the car is a friendly old granny. She looks up at me and sees the state of me. She motions to her feller, it must be her husband.

He just stares at me. I hold his gaze. He has a hard face. We match eyes for seconds until his increasingly agitated wife forces him to look away. She is shouting at him. He looks back at me and drives off. Weird.

As he pulls away a white van is coming from the right hand side and rams his hatchback up the backend. The noise is pathetically small for a car accident like this. It reminds  when a bunch of cans fall off a supermarket shelf. The old timer’s car is shunted off the roundabout to the left whilst the van spins around in the middle of the road. My stomach lurches a little bit at how something so big can look lost.

I turn away from the accident and head up to the flowers for a sit down and to see what I can do about the mega- hunger that I’m feeling.


The sounds of people shouting is knocking me out of my blissful moment. I just want to sit at the summit of this roundabout with my thoughts.

My arms are covered in his aroma. It’s wafting up and too intense a reminder of what happened last night. Another chill goes through my body and I can’t even look at my arms now.

I feel perturbed by something. It’s that old man from the car. He’s now on the road, he has a gash down his face running from his right eye to his jawline.

He’s staring at me again. I don’t like his hard face, harder then the tarmac. I look at other people who have gathered around. They are all looking at me. Twenty of them now. A police car has pulled up too.

Two male cops exit the car and are looking at me too. They’re shouting at me. Words I can’t quite grasp, I feel like I’m falling in to a trance.

I remain sat like a buddha in my flowery roundabout, cut adrift from everything. I’m so glad I still have my memento of last night. I can’t let it go. I close my eyes, trying to preserve my feelings of walking down the road earlier.

The sun is high in the sky now, it must be midday now? How long have I sat here now? I open my eyes and there must be twenty coppers here now, along with a couple of ambulances (ambulanci – is that a word?).

The old man is still there, he’s still staring at me. I can’t see his wife. Some of the police have guns. The guns are pointed at me. They are still shouting at me. Again, their words are like waves bouncing off the bow of an ocean liner.

All I want to do is gaze into his eyes like I did last night.

But as I look down at his face his eyes are no longer there. After I decapitated him I removed his judgmental eyes. Always judging me. No longer will I stand for that kind of shit.

“You’ll never amount to anything, you’re a coward, a pathetic creature” he bawled at me. He was stood in my face, sneeringly arrogant and dominant.

That was when I caught him with my elbow and he went down straight away. The way he went down antagonised me even more. He was sparked out, no movement at all.

I went to the kitchen and got the bread knife. I came back to the bedroom, drank the rest of the wine and went to work.

It took about two hours to chop it off. I suppose you never think about the practicalities of lopping someone’s noggin off. When I finally wrenched the spine away from his head I felt catharsis. It was the most perfect moment of the night.

So I took it with me. I’m not sure why really. I think I thought I had earned it through my labours. Looking at the blood covered face I begin to feel like perhaps it wasn’t my right to behead somebody, no matter how much they piss me off. I’ve always struggled with seeing things rationally. I can see now that some folk may think beheading someone is a slightly disproportionate response.

My arms are covered in dried blood up to my shoulders. Lucky I wore the red dress, otherwise I could have looked a right, clashing mess. What now for me?

I don’t know.

I stand up. The policemen raise their guns in unison.

I lift up the head by his crimson-tinted blonde hair and hold it aloft like it was Medusa’s head. The spectators are visibly repulsed but don’t turn to stone.

I roll the head back down the hill, where it lays to rest on the roadside.

The old man is still there. He’s still staring at me from fifty yards away. Still judging me. His face is unreadable.

I cannot handle this man staring and judging and giving nothing back.

I know I can’t reach him without the police stopping me. But I’ll take my chances.

I run at him, space and time merges together, the future and the past no longer exist.

by Martin O’Brien based on Central Reservation – Beth Orton


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