Nothing Is Immutable – Cath Barton

As the heat continues, colour drains from the land. Grass turns to straw and in the kitchen garden pea pods hang, swollen but useless, on twisted desiccated stems.

The colour moves indoors. Anything exposed to sunlight absorbs the greens, so the curtains are drawn across the tall dusty windows. In the now-shaded rooms of the house dark paintings absorb hues of carmine and ochre. The garments of people painted centuries ago become as new, the nap of velvet raised and vibrant; complexions plump up and the old grow young and rosy-cheeked.

As the oils softens in the heat those people begin to step out from the scenes in which they have been confined inside the frames. They dare not venture outside for fear of melting completely, but roam through the rooms of the house, turning over curiosities and tinkering with machines, eliciting half sentences and provocations from things which turn and whirr, stutter and stop.

At night there is no respite from the heat and everything that lives in the house is restless. Only a frog, chased at some distant date into the corner of a cupboard by a cat, is still, its skin stretched over emptiness.



Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. Her novella The Plankton Collector will be published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review. Cath is on the 2018 Literature Wales Mentoring programme, working on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch. @CathBarton1

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Image: via Pixabay

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