This week’s story is kind of disturbing.
100 & Something | James Turner
Friday in the city and the office is full of suitcases of civilian clothing. No hotel room mini bar for us tonight. We leave these characters behind at five and run for the stations. Pulling at our ties, we wait for the Midlands mainline to leave the bright lights in the distance. We change our costumes in toilet cubicles and chew our pre-packaged sandwiches. The sun sets on the forests and fields and we leave a part of ourselves behind. Our numbers fall at every station, each man left in his own corner of the world. Only thinking of his family and his bed, to hide away before surfacing again.
My numbing week slips away as Nottingham comes into view and my reflection beams as we pull into the dark station. I flick my hair from my eyes and feel young again. Crossing the park and ride, grown men cry onto the tarmac, their cars covered in pigeon shit. The engine starts on the fourth turn, and my eyes glisten in the rear mirror. Turning onto our street I pass a hundred and something front doors until I pull up to the kerb. There’s no car in the drive and the lights are out. All is peaceful as I pull out my keys.
Through the dark hallway to the kitchen, I squint into the fridge and my fingers reach for the ice tray. My glass topped off with the bottle of whisky, unmoved from my last visit. The cubes rattle against my teeth, as I look at my towering shadow on the ceiling and close my eyes. The ice cubes finished, so am I and with the glass in the sink and my shoes in the hall, I climb the staircase.
I find my spare toothbrush is in the bathroom cabinet and use your floss before slipping into the bedroom. A shaft of moonlight shows me to the bed where I reach for you, wrapping your arms around me. This is where I tell myself I belong. Everything I did was for this, but it only pulls me further away from where I need to be. In this moment though, I tell myself it’s OK to feel this way again. I want to make it last but my head is spinning, my eyes heavy. I can’t focus and it slips away for a moment.
There is light in my eyes and I feel your warmth next to me. I kiss your lips and forehead and there’s nothing I want more than to be on your bed with you. The sun burns at the curtains, so bright I can no longer see your face, but I feel your heat and the kiss on my lips.
Then a noise, and the room is dark and your face has gone. I am wrapped in your favourite blouse, your smell makes my head light and downstairs there are voices. Then feet on the stairs. I pull the duvet over my head and the door opens. You pull me from your heat with a face I’ve tried to forget. You say I don’t live here any more, but I feel dead when I’m away. I close my eyes to try and dream, but you will not let me find your smile again.
At the bottom of the stairs I gather my things and the smell of burnt toast takes you to the kitchen. Our wedding photos no longer hang on the walls and our smiles have been packed away in the attic. You watch me as I walk out to the car. I pull on the seatbelt but don’t start the engine. I stare back at the house and at you in the porch waiting for me to go.
James Turner writes short form fiction and has been published by Molotov Cocktail, Short Story Flash Fiction Society, The Queens Head and ABC Tales.
He posts occasionally at bloodbonesbricks.wordpress.com and @jturner27