Lettuce – Lauren Miller

We had forgotten to close the curtains so our bodies looked sickly in the burst of orange streetlight, the duvet domed like sorbet. It felt like only a moment had passed between falling asleep, and you pacing the room like a caged animal, yelling “Don’t move! Don’t move, you hear!”

I followed your orders.

“You just-,” you said, “lifted.”

“What?”

“You lifted. Like- levitated.”

I thought of lettuce. “Let’s just sleep.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You goin’t’ stay there?” I pressed my face into the pillow on your side. (It wasn’t your pillow, because we were at my house.) I figured you’d had a nightmare but I didn’t feel comfortable comforting you. We’d only slept together three times.

By the time you came back, the sky was mauve. I stroked the side of you and you shuddered. You did it again when I asked: “What was up with you?”

“I’m not joking. You levitated.”

This time I didn’t think you said lettuce- I thought you were mad.

The following day crashed over me like breakwater, but I stayed unmoved. I checked my phone then my work emails replied to the emails then checked my phone.

I had told you I worked in a travel agent but nothing else. I hoped you thought I was adventurous, ambitious. I didn’t tell you my recent clients were a group of eighty-year-olds booking a coach trip to Llandudno. I didn’t tell you the agency’s slogan was Twilight Travellers: It’s never too late!

Since we’d started dating I’d let a few things slip; I hadn’t updated the booking spreadsheet in weeks, I hadn’t been pushing extra excursions, bee-keeping, pot-holing, wing-walking, learning the art of nose-to-tail cooking.

Just after lunch, I received an electronic meeting invitation from my boss. I was stressing about it when you called and asked if I was busy after work and I said No. At 6 pm we would meet in a pub around the corner. By 5.30 pm I had signed out of my computer and was doing my make-up behind my monitor.

That night you wedged your hands under my back and bum like you were trying to lift me. Your signet ring dug into my tailbone. After you held me tight, your heart beating faster than mine. You snored, your belly made noises.

Then,

“Get off me, get the fuck away!”

I was on the edge of the bed, legs hanging over the side.

“I felt you, I fucking felt you.”

“I didn’t- I don’t know-”

“You were up there!” you said pointing to an invisible platform above the bed, “and then you were-”

“Look!” I said, pissed off because I was tired and the sex was good and why were you ruining things? “What is going on here?”

You didn’t seem to know how to answer. I wondered if I should hug you.

“You did this, not me.”

I laughed dryly, scratched my face.

“You a witch?”

“Fuck off!” I said and threw my pillow. You caught it, chucked it back. I laughed, you didn’t.

I lay back down, pulled the duvet over my head. “It’s late. Come on, you Mormon!”

“What?”

“Moron!”

“You said-”

“Whatever.”

When I came back from the shower you’d gone. A note on the pillow. Got a call and had to run. Speak soon x

I boiled the kettle in the office kitchen and I thought about who could have called you; your friend who worked in an internet cafe, the one who dated a private investigator. I hadn’t met any of your friends.

Callum swung around the doorway drinking from a plastic water bottle that had a lump of charcoal bobbing around inside. “Alright?” I nodded and cut up some lemon. “Heard Chrissy wants to see you.”

“We’re having a meeting, yes.”

“She’s off sick today. You’re in luck.”

I rubbed the base of my spine.

“Do something to your back?”

“No.”

“Sleep funny?”

“No!” I dropped lemon into the cup and watched the skin shrivel.

That night I didn’t turn the lights on, just crawled straight into bed. I prayed my sleep would be interrupted by you, but you never called. I can’t remember falling asleep but I must have, and it must have been fitful because I woke up on the floor with my arm twisted behind me. Pain ripped the threads of my shoulder. With gritted teeth, I brought myself to my knees, kept still my arm and called you with the other.

I was early but you were earlier. You looked at your feet when you saw my arm in the sling, held doors open. We were seated by the window, candlelight flickering in the glass. I wanted to tell you I thought you needed professional help, with your sleeping and what you imagined. I guessed you’d had a traumatic childhood experience.

“I’ve messed you around,” you said.

“I deserved better.”

“I know. You just scared me.” I hoped you meant I had been too keen, you’d sensed my neediness and become afraid, could tell I’d imagined our wedding, our children, our deaths. “I’ve just never seen someone fly before.”

I took a long sip of my wine.

“Have you ever researched it? Had a proper look at your- ancestry?”

“Are you fucking serious?”

“Yes.”

Your eyes seemed softer somehow. You’d been nice when you’d rescued me off the floor, taken me to a&e. But honestly, I couldn’t believe what you were saying. I tried to catch the waitress who was leaning over the counter scribbling on her pad. I raised an arm, forgot it was the bad one.

“Shit, you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I hissed.

The candle licked the space between us. Shadows moved across your concerned face, eyebrows knotted together, looking back at me, the broken woman sat opposite. Or were you looking beyond me, at the waitress who had just placed two menus under her arm and was floating across the floor towards us?

 

The Cabinet Of Heed Issue 28 Contents Link

Image via Pixabay

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