The underfed fled home on summer break. Invitations leaked out on Facebook. Boosters used words like shindig and soirée. This was a less obvious way of saying party. We were trained to overstate the hint and underestimate the open gesture. Obscurity was in vogue. The truth was yesterday’s newspaper.
The acting thing wasn’t going great. I was in a play, but it was unpaid, overly long, am-dram and terrible. I was dressed as a yokel and had to wear fake freckles over my real ones. I wrote myself a note that I stuck on my wall, it said – NO MORE ACTING IN PLAYS. I was sleeping with one of the lead actors who only ate pies and protein shakes. When we met up and decided to call it off I smoked three cigarettes. It wasn’t stressful; I just thought it should’ve been. My flatmate was an alcoholic on the methadone programme who loved Judas Priest and Dolly Parton. He was currently addicted to prescription painkillers and passed out most nights to the sound of the opening title sequence of The Sopranos or The Godfather. The night before my new job, The Godfather seeped into my dream, and I dreamt my flatmate was ripping up our floorboards with a crow bar. I laughed about the dream at work the next day, as I fed another double-sided sheet of paper into the photocopier in preparation for scanning. Watching the magic of two turning into one.
Svetlana’s body could longer stand the cold; she shivered at the bus stop while fingering the cross around her neck. She’d moved to Prague from Most, away from her parents, and from their neighbours’ stares and the gossip that echoed the halls of their apartment building. She placed a hand on her swollen belly. She was pregnant, due in four weeks.
He doesn’t like to talk about it now that he’s home.
He has changed. She stares at his shaking hands. His face seems different somehow, wild. There is something untamed in his eyes. They only focus on things far away, very far away.
She reached two hands to the back of her neck, I thought to unzip her dress and wanted to say wait, stop but then, like a magician, she produced one hair pin and another, and another. She’d been straddling my hips and now she let her full weight rest while she concentrated. Eight pins, silver and small, in a school on my chest.
The lady recrosses her legs and stubs out her cigarette.
“Alright, boys,” she says. “You can come in now.” The “boys” are a surly painter and a uni student, neighbours from opposite sides of her apartment. The painter lives with his wife across the hall. The kid studies history.
The room is full of half-packed boxes and she’s got g-strings artistically placed on the furniture. There’s one strung over the back of the suede couch. Another is positioned on the coffee table. The boys pretend not to see them. They stand in her doorjamb, pensive. The kid doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
Tobias is a Minotaur, whose bed you just woke up in. He is shorter, actually, than might be anticipated, with legs that are suddenly hairy at the shin, just above the hoof. At the moment he is in the kitchenette. He has put his jeans on and his t-shirt. He is making tea. You lie on your front, the sheets kicked to the bed’s end. You are yet to put your jeans on, yet to find your t-shirt somewhere under the thrown-off doona. This morning as you shivered through the first stages of a hangover, Tobias spooned you.
And now, atop his linens, you are thinking on your next move. Thinking of the caterpillar footstep of blood in your head vein. And trying to remember the previous night’s undressing. Who took what off who, and in what order? How quickly?