If We Do Not Speak Of These Thingshttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/art-5.jpg?fit=1920%2C1280&ssl=119201280Ellen KirkmanEllen Kirkmanhttps://i0.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/ellenkirkman.jpg?fit=64%2C96&ssl=1
In the morning the damage is obvious. Last night, I burrowed through the mattress. Rodent-like, I gnawed great tufts of foam and wiry cotton fibres, flinging them into the air as I descended into the fabric and squeezed among the coils. There are scratches on my arms where the springs caught me, which you probably won’t notice . . . again.
I clawed my way through the carpet, picked at the wooden boards underneath until they were shredded spikes, and crawled in through the ceiling of the living room, where you slept on the sofa, oblivious to my labour.
Tapping at the plaster where it was weakest around the light fitting, I was worried that the drop from the ceiling to the floor might wake you. But you slept soundly enough and my feet made only the lightest of thuds as I landed. The floorboards there were worn; they easily dismembered when I broke them apart with my fingertips and slipped through the timber joists that held up our house and into the damp underground below.
That is where I unraveled the emotion from the evening, along with all the shame that I cover with drinking. I pack them all away in boxes and bury them, scraping away dirt and earth amidst the damp creatures that squirm in and out of the foundations. And that is where I passed out when the exertion of the 3 a.m. escapade exhausted me.
I woke, fully clothed, sprawled in the bed with a thumping head. I knew that I’d have to apologise. I scrambled out of bed and quickly removed my dirty jeans and t-shirt, and pulling my dressing gown tight around me, I put on my brave face as I casually made my way down the stairs.
You had made up the sofa bed and stacked the sheets neatly on the top. You had your back to me as I entered the kitchen. The smell of fresh coffee hit me like a mallet. I wanted to reach out and stroke that back but all I could muster was a frosty greeting that did not sound like me. You turned toward me and gave me a nod – it was a reassurance that you don’t yet hate me, but not one I wanted or needed. I wanted you to fill me in on the details, the ones I can’t ever seem to remember.
Instead, you clasped me in a loose hug and planted a kiss that awkwardly skimmed past the top of my ear before you left for work.
Later, I extract a huge splinter from beneath my fingernail. It hurts, and I bleed.