Hielo y fuego

I gave up. I fell onto the sofa with the remains of a pot of chocolate ice cream, half-melted in the microwave out of impatient desperation. I let each spoonful melt across my tongue; grateful for a feeling at all I followed the cold sensation as it numbed my throat and spread into my stomach. As I scraped the last from the sides of the pot my dog jumped into life, barking out the window at a silver blur of car headed toward the dead-end. I called her down off the sofa. She didn’t look entirely convinced that the excitement was over but she obeyed and came to sit at my feet.

I sighed into the empty pot and heaved myself up to take it to the bin. April followed me half the way down the hall but the sound of a car door sent her hurtling back to her post on the back of the sofa by the window, to add to the collection of nose marks on the glass. I dumped the pot in the bin, and the spoon in the sink and turned on the radio. It was adverts, so it went straight off again. Leaning against the counter I let my eyes shut and my head fall back.

The barking became suddenly more urgent as the gate clicked shut. I was definitely not in the mood for visitors and considered just staying in the kitchen out of view and waiting for whoever it was to leave again, but the barking was drilling into my skull so I ventured back down the hall and shut April in the front room.

I opened the front door before you reached it; you were standing halfway down the driveway facing the way you had just come and running a hand through your hair. You turned at the sound of the door opening and my heart broke a little bit more just at the sight of you.

You were wearing my favourite shirt of yours, a dark purple button-down, sleeves rolled up in the early summer heat. Your hair had been starting to lighten in the sun and you looked so youthful and full of life and then at the same time utterly bewildered that I had opened the door to my own house while you were standing on my driveway. April was still shouting but with less fervour now you were out of sight.

You shook your head slowly and took the three paces between us in no time at all and took hold of my face with such a deliberate grip I braced for impact and your warm lips met my cold ones with all the subtlety of the big bang. You drew me forward across the threshold onto the cold stone floor and when my hands finally figured out what was happening they gripped the back of your shirt and held you close.

You pulled back and looked into my eyes, concerned and searching for something.

“You’re gonna break me one of these days”, I said.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry”, you answered, pulling me into your arms; bringing me home.

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Shade

The sun shone mockingly, illuminating a world that she did not want to see. Her every muscle heavy with a fatigue that she couldn’t sleep off, her mind not present, but not elsewhere. Nowhere, really. She allowed her eyelids to drop closed and rested her head on her knees as she sat on the carpet. The warmth from the sky was unwelcome. It met her skin like the touch of an old friend who had wronged her in some way, and she tried to shake it off.

The dog let out a shrill bark of excitement behind her as a stranger pulled into the driveway. Her head remained down, her eyes remained shut, and she listened as the vehicle turned and left again and the dog resumed its nap at the bottom of the stairs. She raised her head only to pick up the mug from beside her. She lifted it to her face and let the steam flow over her face to cleanse her of the dirty feeling the sunlight had inflicted.

Her skin became sticky and smooth from the vapour, her eyes regained the strength to open a little, and her disdain for the sun lightened.