Inspired by ‘Arterial’ from Electricity for Beginners by Michelle Dicinoski
Your skin is too pale in the moonlight, the covers kicked off and your bare hip protruding. It is cold now although when we creaked into bed it was warm enough. No need for blankets then. Perhaps I have woken at the very moment when the season changes, summer, bleeding out to autumn. Your tightly pricked nipple pointing towards winter, a sad reminder of a warmer time. It is late and it is dark and maybe that is why my lips are suddenly parting as if I am about to take your breast into my mouth.
The rattle of a road train shivers past. The light changes with it, a track of glare that floods the room for a moment before it moves to touch the wall. In that second I can see the whole of you for what it is, a body leaning more towards winter than spring, the tired sag of that breast, the skin folding over itself, the nipple hard and cracked. Your face in this light is so like my own face that I turn away from it. Press my lips tightly together. We are becoming so like each other.
I feel the crack of my bones as I slip my feet out of bed and onto the chilled floor and I wish I had thought to fit the electric blanket under the sheet.
Another truck passes and the whole house trembles as if it understands. The light shifts across the room and I make sure that I have my face turned away from the mirror when it does so. When the room returns to black I can look back to the sprawl of you in our bed. Unlike me, you are the same lean stretch of limbs that first caught my eye. Same measure of thigh, same stretch of neck. In darkness I still feel some small rattle of desire, a tremor in between my thighs, brittle, fragile, like the china clacking together in the draw as yet another truck passes by.
A road train then. And here, standing in the doorway I remember how we rattled the china on the night your brother came to stay. Another house perhaps but like this one, the building was unsteady on it’s foundations like a new fawn picking itself up from the ground for the first time.
What were you girls doing in there last night? He asked, all wide-eyed innocence. The wine glasses, he said, all tinkling in the draining board. I thought there was an earthquake.
You told him you had spilled your orange juice. An elaborate story about having to rub at the carpet to make sure it didn’t stain. I smiled at your use of a euphemism that he would never pick. Later at breakfast I caught your foot between mine, under the table where he wouldn’t see.
The truck passes. The crockery settles. This is another house. Another season on the way. I reach for the sad hang of my flannelette pyjamas. I slip them on. They are cold from the cupboard and soft as your skin used to be.
Autumn is coming.
I slip back into bed and pull the blanket up to your chin. I catch your foot between my own but you grunt and frown and pull your cold foot away and out of my reach.
To celebrate the launch of our new website, Stilts hosted, ‘Brisbane Authors write letters and other things’: a chain letter for novels, memoir, poetry published in 2011.
Krissy Kneen is the author of three books including Triptych – a trio of linked novellas.