fiction

NOT TOUCHING

chris-r-0048 Image by Christine Renney

We haven’t spoken in almost a week. Time since we argued feels stretched. I don’t fill it as I usually do. Although I keep to my routine of work and such I don’t read and I try but cannot listen to music. She is above in our bedroom. I am alert to her every movement, each and every footfall, every creak and thud.
The telephone rings and I am startled but realise I have spoken hardly at all since we stopped shouting and that here, in the house, I haven’t uttered a single word. But still I sit stiffly and wait and when I hear her pushing up from the bed I am relieved. I listen to her voice through the ceiling, one side of a conversation, low and abstracted. I hear her put the phone back in its cradle up there and I lift the one down here – I don’t key in a number but still I hit green and pressing it hard against my ear I listen to the tone. I am surprised at how loud and insistent it is.

A little later I will relinquish this room and take my turn up there. I will lay on the dishevelled bed. I am exhausted but won’t sleep. For hours I will stare up at the ceiling and at some point I will undress and crawl beneath the covers. Eventually she will join me and, facing away from each other, we will adopt almost identical foetal like positions and try not to move, try not to touch.

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