I took his hat home to wash in the kitchen sink, got the kettle red hot, the wool spawned blood, his, theirs too, a mess of ruby muddied see-through to maroon solvent stains not stubborn like those he’d seen back home. I pictured his mother’s hands hutch – brown in their crochet of care for this hat, this hat that my fingers now worried over, the finest of stitches, a wool that gave up the weight of silence: of thunder gun fear and sawn rifle breath, of fire as far as the sky goes, of brothers rotting, of some official saying make it something easy to say like Dave or D and the soap powder kept on cleansing it out, the skin cells from way back, the screams, and then what went on last night until it was nearly blue again and still in the shape of his head when it was whole.
Rachael Smart has a thing about words. Her short fiction and poetry has been published online, in literary journals and placed in competitions. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. She writes best when the pencil loses its point.