Cumbrian Inn

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

A man stands behind a woman as she stands with a pint in her hand and stares at a wall. It’s an old wall, an ancient wall and he cocks his head as he watches.

Inhaling, the man ponders as he carefully erects his words and he saddens. Will she even care to listen?

“What are you doing?”, he asks and she can feel his eyes as they pick at the hairs on her neck.

Tremors involuntarily leak through her skin and she digs her fingers deep into her pit and surprises herself as she answers.

“Nothing. I remember watching a show years ago about sound. A crazy notion that it could be trapped within the plaster of these old taverns. Layers of phantoms in the walls”, she says, swallowing far too loudly.

“I am a ghost.”

The woman stiffens, again this shyness she so hates, the puff swollen flush of her face.

“There’s nothing in these walls. My body is down there. Out through these panes upon which the rivulets conjoin and thicken, down to that prong where the land narrows and drops to the pounding swell. Down where the harpy tide rolled and suckled at the sponge of my carcass before then thrusting it deep down into that ripping slit in the rocks.”

“You make fun of me. They all make fun of me”, she whispers.

“I don’t mock. It’s hard, I know. Even the slim chance you believe me is tainted with the preconceptions you draw from your fictions. I’m no wisp of a life’s remembered smoke, no angry ghoul to haunt this place of my murder.”

“Then what?”

“I am wet. I am cold and I feel each beat of the waves as they surge and scoop at my bones. It is a cruel reality this thing called death.”

The woman shifts her gaze and looks to the old man who sits in the corner hunched and lost in his brew. And she looks at the stretch of the barman’s back as he grinds and polishes the bar and she begs for them to turn. She wants rid of this crazy and beautiful thing, this caressing tone. This thing she cannot face.

“It’s OK.”

The woman feels his hands as they reach and curl at her waist. She feels his spreading moisture as it soaks down into her clothes. Her eyes roll back into her mind and they plead, yet again, for the barman and the old drunk to turn.

Just turn.

She can smell the brine of his hair and she rocks on the balls of her feet and she gags and she spits out the sea that grips and burns in her throat.

His arms loop up under hers from behind and his fingers lace at her chest. And the fish they gnash, and their heads rip side-to-side and pull her away from her skin.

His lips part and she feels their swell at her neck and her eyes fill with a darkness stabbed through with fingers of light. Fingers that lazily swirl and sweep from edge of the boat that drifts up high and upon the ceiling.

“Calm, trust yourself in me. It’s OK to submit and fold into this rapture, it’s OK if they never turn. Not ever.”

“Why, why did you come?”, she asks.

“Don’t you see, silly? I came here only for you.”


  1. rjerbacher

    Sharp. Wet. Emotional. Thrilling.

  2. Emma Brown

    God l loved this. Your style here reminded me of something i read about grooming the reader with keywords to create feeling and mood. Really nicely done.

    • Hari Navarro

      Bloody hell Emma I can’t get anything past you! Now you know my evil plan 😉 😉 Thanks for your comments.

  3. wasteland66

    Very atmospheric and again with that final uplifting note of hope amid the decay. thx much enjoyed.

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