The morning ritual:
The misty, unsteady world.
The battle against gravity.
The happy pill.
The failed attempt at breakfast;
The nausea of low blood sugar.
The silent prayer
that the lorries will see me coming.
The scream of brakes
and muttered curses;
I can smell him in the air; I can hear him moan my name;
His face is burned into my eyelids;
My mind wanders far,
lost in the night;
Far from the hands that hold me down.
My duty fulfilled;
He never need know,
he was never even involved.
She entered the bedroom after he was already under the sheets, his chest exposed as he sat against the wall fiddling with his phone. She closed the door without a word, checked that he was still occupied by the screen in his hand, then turned to face the wardrobe and began to remove her shirt. The room fell abnormally quiet, the sound of him thinking seemed to vanish from the air and she could tell he was watching her before she looked in the mirror to her left.
He looked at her like an animal at its helpless prey. She thought that this was how someone must look at a person they are about to murder as they crouch in fear screaming for mercy. She tried to ignore the intensity of his stare as it burned into her skin and reached down to the floor to retrieve her nightshirt. She hastened her routine as she removed her bra and pulled the shirt over her head. It was grey and old and was more like a short dress than a shirt, it ended over her thighs and she liked it best that way. She did not want to be attractive, she wanted to go to sleep.
She unbuttoned her jeans, removed them carefully so as not to show any more skin than necessary, and placed them folded on the chair next to her for the morning. She flashed a glance to the mirror; he was still watching her, the same disgusting half-smile fixed on his face. It was a look of expectancy that was soon to be tainted with disappointment and displeasure.
She released a silent sigh before turning the light off and joining him in the small double bed. She was careful not to touch him and not to meet his gaze; she did not want to give him any sort of signal that the look on his face was welcome. He put down his phone on the cabinet beside him and looked over to her. He slid a hand over to her leg under the sheets and she held back a grimace, forcing a smile onto her lips. She muttered a goodnight and lay facing the wall, away from him and that carnal almost-smile.
His rough hand met the curve of her hip and her face contorted with the mixture of anger and sadness and pain that coursed through her veins. This was not how life was meant to be.
I feel your warmth behind me, diffusing toward my skin;
I hear your breath against the pillow, slow and deep and serene;
I smile at your proximity, I can smell you in the air;
I turn to watch you sleep.
And I remember that I am alone.
He lay before me with that smile on his face; the one that can do no wrong yet means no good.
The white cotton sheet covered up to his waist where it met his golden skin, embracing the contours of his hips.
One arm behind his head to accentuate his perfectly imperfect mess of dark brown hair, as he watched me watching him.
His blue eyes murky yet bright; a stormy sky displayed to the world through this slightly creased work of art.
A piece the museums couldn’t afford.
The world seemed to be spinning faster than usual, and it was off-balance. The ground swayed and tilted and she stumbled as she walked. The people around her seemed unaffected by the rapidly shifting gravity and looked on in disgust at the drunken flailing of the sober woman before them. She was grasping at the walls desperately as she searched the maze of hallways for the elevators. Upon finally reaching the correct end of the building she shakily withdrew a key card from her bag and slid it down the receiver by the doors. She hugged the handbag to her chest and leaned against the wall.
“Deep breaths, deep breaths”, she muttered to herself, looking down to the floor as it rippled and undulated.
The doors flew open mercifully and she stumbled into the elevator, taking the metal rail that lined the mirrored box in both hands to steady herself.
She reached out an arm and pressed the button for her floor, as well as the two either side of it that somehow had read the same number a moment ago. She looked into the mirror as she began to ascend, staring into her own eyes. Her reflection blinked, she did not. She closed her eyes tightly for a couple of seconds. When she opened them her her reflection had turned to look behind her. Her eyes were now frozen on the mirror.
The door opened and closed next to her. Her reflection flinched at the sound. She did not.
She stared into the woman in the mirror, not so sure it was a reflection anymore, as it blinked independently and looked around the room.
The doors finally opened on the correct floor and she staggered out into one final hallway, the walls breathing rhythmically around her. She found a familiar door and inserted the key card still gripped in her hand. She silently thanked a deity she had never spoken with as she pushed the heavy door open. She left the lights off and ran to the bed, landing face-down in the soft sheets. She breathed slowly and deeply, filling her head with the sterile clean scent, in blissful darkness.