It’s always easier than you think it’ll be. Than I think it’ll be. Sorry, that’s a thing I do. Universalise. See, I want to say, ‘it’s a thing we do.’ Meaning humans. People. But it’s not universal. I mean, I know I’m not alone in doing it. There’s eight billion other minds on this planet. There’s probably about a million people exactly like me just in China. Mentally like me I mean – obviously they’d be Chinese and speaking Chinese. So I could say, ‘it’s a thing we do.’ Me and my million Chinese twins. But I think that’d be a lie, because it’s really not what I mean. I mean all of us. And that’s not true. Because I’m not like you. I could be – no, uh. I mean you could be. Like me. But it’s very unlikely. So when I say that it’s always easier than I think it’ll be, it’s probably better for us all to remember that it’s not universally true. It’s always easier for me than I expect it to be. But you might discover that it’s far, far harder than you would have guessed. If you’d even want to try of course. Murder isn’t for everyone.
The clock chopped seconds off her life with an implacable rhythm. In the darkness, her mind made the sounds into bursts of colour – like bubbles popping. Like fireworks. It wasn’t something she did, it was just the way her brain worked. It was something she had assumed everyone experienced, and when she discovered that she was unusual she struggled to explain it. Fortunately, there was a word for it. Unfortunately, the word was synesthesia, which felt like moving marbles from the front to the back of your mouth without choking and didn’t really explain what it was.
She didn’t really have to though. Just as she had been unaware that other people didn’t see sound as colour or any of the other things she perceived, so they could be unaware that their words bubbled out in rainbow ripples and their footsteps echoed greenly to her. It was a pity for them. Mostly. She liked the colours, liked them more when she learned they were hers. But there were things she didn’t like. The bruise purple of machines humming. The slick of yellow left by squeaky white board markers that took so long to fade. And the blood red bursts of a clock ticking, like an alarm going off. An alarm for time crumbling away.
She got out of bed as quietly as possible, a faint green rustle of sheets. He snored vermillion once, but settled again unaware. With a soft crimson pop she removed the batteries from the clock. She sat for a moment in the almost perfect black silence. She would apologise in the morning, if she was still there. Perhaps even explain.
Every time I handed a wine bottle down to him there would be a soft clink of metal on glass. His wedding ring. I was elbow deep in the hall cupboard, helping my father to unpack a lifetime of dinner parties from the shelves. My lifetime specifically, as we had lived in this house since before I could walk.
I pulled bottle off the rack, wiped off the crusted years of dust with a damp cloth, and passed them down to my father to sort into boxes. ‘Spoiled’ – the corks flecked with mold. ‘Good’ – wine that would presumably find a new cupboard in my parents’ new house in Cape Town. ‘Jonathan’ – wine of dubious merit but probably fit for consumption. Wine meant for me to take. On many of the bottles there’s a label written in my father’s well practiced hand, a name and a date – the wine’s provenance as it pertained to my family: who gave it to them, and when. He has always been a note taker, a recorder of data. He has charted decades of rainfall and temperature on our little farm. He records daily life not in journals but in letters, most sent to my sister who lives abroad. An orderly mind that projects order on his world. “James, 1998” – my father reads aloud. Does this summon the memory of that night? He nods to himself and files the bottle. ‘Good’.