The Downfall of Many a Good Man – by SUE PEARSON

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From the shadows, he watches her every move. He’s claimed his place in the corner of the club, night after night, jacket discarded and tie loosened.

She dances slowly, a swirl of dark hair and languorous limbs. A splash of cerise, with patent heels and legs to die for.

He rests the whiskey glass against his lips and savours the salted, smoky scent as it rises. Then he sips and rolls cool fire in his mouth.

He’s in no rush as he contemplates the stretch and tear of her fish-nets, should his fingers hook into them. Recently, he’s woken with the sleep-soaked thought of twisting his hands in the tangle of her hair.

He swallows the whiskey, which trails hot to his stomach. Talisker. A mix of peat and seaweed. He likes to treat himself. It’s landed him trouble before. But, he needs the whiskey to watch her dance and he knows he won’t last a day without her. He tells himself she is only here for him.

His breath shortens as he loses sight of her amongst the pulsating heave of dancers. Then relief washes over him as she reappears and turns in his direction.

She strokes her hand up through her long hair and sweeps it off her forehead, exposing an eyes-closed expression of serenity. She moves to her own song. Her rhythm different to those around her. She begins to sing. A melody with no words, although her mouth seems to form them. Deep in the folds of his cortex the sound twists and curls, like smoke through neural pathways so that he hears her voice. Sweet, as if bowed on heart strings it begins to ascend, bringing him to his feet. It draws him from the shadows to the very edge of the dance floor where she moves before him, watching him from ice blue eyes set in her pale face.

His skin thrills with the knowledge that he will drown in those eyes. His heart burns anticipating her alabaster touch. And with pain akin to ecstasy, he feels his soul beat and bray inside his ribs, seeking freedom to grasp the paradise she offers.

He falls to his knees. With this worship his siren unfolds her wings and rises above him, beating the air so that he forgets to breathe. And as her song reaches the peak of its crescendo, her face becomes haggard with insatiable hunger. Her pink mouth stretches to cavernous and he is engulfed.


sue pearson photo

Sue Pearson is a writer originally from Belfast and now living in Newcastle Upon Tyne with a heady mix of kids and animals. In a previous life she was a family lawyer but escaped to pursue her love of writing and completed an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in September 2019. Sue is published in the Bridges Anthology (Bandit Fiction) February 2020 and @reflexfiction.

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