'Remote' by Angela Readman
Then, he didn’t want to say I love you, but it slipped out, refused to be contained. He saw disadvantages to her moving in, but asked anyway.
He didn’t want to say he didn’t give a shit about scattering cushions. It wasn’t him to throw a plate at the wall.
Someone else had his remote, turned up his volume when he least expected it. On cool blue mornings he considered God, but was sure he had better things to do, what with polar bears and the price of stamps. Everyday at work he thought about it. This job wasn’t him, what made him stay?
He visited his mother to investigate. Knitting needles ticked. Suddenly, he was furious at how everything was covered in plastic. The couch squealed under his arse. He didn’t use a coaster to test a theory. It was unlikely she had the control. Who’d let coffee stain their table or flick between game shows if they could control a man?
Walking through the cemetery, he thought remotes. He wondered if his father was buried with it and was lying on it accidentally like a credit card in a back pocket. Teenage girls huddled by the wall, laughed like crows. One showed the pretty one her phone. And he wanted to knock the phone from her hand, tell her nothing was that funny. The source of their laughter was someone else’s misfortune. He wondered how many remotes to poor young guys they owned.
Someone was really going to town with his remote, randomly clicking, letting the cat sleep on it. Everyday he had less control of his own. He thought of ex-girlfriends, sitting down, playing him like Supermario. Could he go find his exes? Break in? Steal back his remote? He couldn’t remember them all. He knew where only one lived now. He stood outside and looked through the window at her eating crisps, her three shitty kids going wild. If she had his remote, it wasn’t bringing her much joy.
He put his key in the door and found his fiance stirring soup, hand on belly. He wanted to go to her, nuzzle into her neck to find that good place. He wanted to place his hand on her stomach, feel something move. For once, let the evening be on mute. He could just look at colour charts and nod, but he couldn’t. Someone somewhere else had his remote. Even when she wept it was beyond him to take her in his arms.