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CAROL sits on the edge of the bath. Her feet are touching each other and the enamel is cold under her thighs.

A chill is seeping through the windows, though the gas boiler is rumbling in the kitchen below. She'd been woken in the night by mewling cats. Their cries were eerie, visceral and frightening like the hunger of babies. She shifts along the bath, reaching for a towel, remembering how the girls had cried in the night, pulling them from sleep. From each other.

Dawn is a bubble of gold melting onto frosted glass. The shelf above the sink is a jumble of shampoo bottlers, conditioner, bath oil, shaving foam. She notices some dark snips of hair at the base of the taps from the last time Miles shaved.

She's wearing a pair of his old pyjamas with the cuffs and trousers rolled up.

They don't smell of him exactly, but of them. She'd worn them the last time they made love. He'd undone the buttons so gently, one by one, a kiss for each. Then he'd touched her belly, kissed it in little circles, his lips pressed against her, grazing her skin.

A bird brushes against the window, a shadow from the world outside. She unbuttons the collar of the jacket and slips her hand inside. It's cold: a stranger's hand or a doctor's. The little lump under her left breast is still there, like a marble under the skin. She undresses, switches on the shower, steps into heat and steam.

*** On the way to the office, Miles sees half a dozen police at the Nakasero roundabout with capes and rifles. There is a tree on which five marabou storks have settled, flapping that dry drum-skin sound. It's the sound of hunger, the sound of appetite or desire.

He sees the woman begging with her baby and crosses over the road, having no change.

Then white clouds puffing up at the horizon in giant thermals. Kites and storks circling; a black wheelbarrow filled with purple blossom.

* Touch by Graham Mort is published by Seren at pounds 7.99 > CONTINUES TOMORROW
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 27, 2012
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