Charley Barnes


I walk him in sandals and a knitted poncho. My hair is half-
up-half-down in a messy style, like it would be on a
morning walk at home. Here, though, there is the crisp-
packet crunch of sand beneath my feet and it is easier to
breathe. I don’t know whether those two things are related.
I am the same but different, here. And it makes me wonder
about the selves; how many there are; whether I left one in
the service station on the ninety-four minute drive down
here [I have imagined this, her walking in to use the bathroom;
the dog and I making a break to leave before she could walk
out. I imagine her sighing and throwing her arms up how a parent
might, rolling her eyes and thinking how typical this is of me, to
run when no one is looking.] It’s a proximity issue, I suppose,
which is to say here, I am a greater distance away from the self
I dislike; the one I am trying to shrink, origami into a ring box. I can
hear the ocean as I write this, and that makes all the difference, too.

Dr Charley Barnes is an author and academic from Worcester, UK. She writes poetry, crime fiction, and is currently researching representations of truth in true crime media. Her most recent novel, Safe Word, is available now and her next fiction pamphlet, Your Body is a House Stripped, is forthcoming with Broken Sleep (May 2023). 

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