Skin


The sheet sticks to her skin like an unwashed floor. She blows her palms but it only pushes humidity. Take-away Thai hangs in the air and the clock hand pounds. She waits, apprehensive. She waits for her mobile to illuminate the dinge. Silent at the foot of her bed, its corpse eye threatens to snap open as soon as she looks away. Her foot slides across dated magazines as she rolls off the double bed. At the mirror she smears lip balm and sheds her clothes on her rack of shoes. She flicks the fan on high. It sparks and coasts several revolutions to a halt. With a hiss she swipes it to the floor and crashes face down into her pillow.

Green dash lights illuminate his frown like a stage production. Across the front lawn, saplings billow and curtain the house. The building sleeps but for the bathroom window. He shuts the driver’s door softly, locking it manually to avoid the pips. Ceiling stars glisten. Crickets are silenced by his footsteps across the grass to the front steps. He splashes water on his face from the garden hose and slips through the rickety screen door.

Suspended in glass, she strokes her way to the reef bed. Shoals of fish brush her skin as she winds her way though seaweed swaying to the sweeping waves. Surface space; blinding. Salt air crashes into her lungs. He stands on the dune, his lone figure silhouetted on blue sky. Treading water she waves, but he remains static. He must be facing the mountains, she thinks, and calls his name, but her cry is drowned on the waves and the stifling off-shore wind. She sets out for the beach. With each stroke the breakers remain distant. Her body aches as it strains the current and limbs grow heavy. The figure remains frozen on the dune.

His eyes gradually adjust to the ambience as he shuffles down the burgundy Persian rug that lines the hall. The skin of his arm tingles on her cashmere coat, hanging on the inside the corner of her bedroom door. Beads of sweat sparkle and collect down the line of her back. The moon carves its highlight across the deranged sheets and the dimple of her spine. He sits in the shadows at the foot of her bed – he sits on her phone. Pulling it from under him, he checks the next alarm, cancelling the 5:30am due in 2 minutes time. Though a mop of brown hair covers the pillow, he knows the angst written on her face. He reaches for a strand and twines it through his fingers. His absence for days at her most vulnerable could have been avoided. He dare not touch her skin. He would not be able to explain. She stirs; he freezes. And backs off her bed.

The heatwave encroaches from all sides. She wakes wet and burning, rolls to the dry edge. At the kitchen tap she suckles water from her hand.  Suddenly the ticking of the midday clock catches her ear. She stops.

He had come.


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