I read my book until you come to bed, unsmiling and unwilling to look me in the eye. You pull your t-shirt over your head and throw it at the basket, missing. It lies there, crumpled and sullen, daring me to say something. I pretend to be engrossed in my book but secretly watch as you step out of your jeans and leave them by the side of the bed. I breathe deeply and quietly so that you don’t hear the annoyance in my exhalation. I feel you looking at me, waiting for the usual complaint, but I simply smile as I raise my head from the pages and look into your cold eyes that dare me to criticise.
I put my book down on the bedside table. A night breeze wafts the curtains and I can feel the chill as you slide under the covers, your back towards me. I want to reach out to you, to touch the body I once knew better than my own, but I fear the frost that clings to you, a repellent second skin to freeze me out.
A moth, soft and furry, penetrates the curtains, attracted to the fridge light of our bedroom. It heads for the lamp where it beats against the shade before seeking some respite from the heat. Brown powdered wings beat their way to me and gently caress my cheek, reminding me of an earlier time, an earlier you, an earlier us.
I flap my hands at the moth, shooing it away. You turn to me and grasp my wrist. “It’s only a moth,” you say. “Put out the light and it will fly back out the window.”
You let go and turn away from me again. I put out the light and lie there in the darkness, my wrist on fire.
“Goodnight,” I whisper but you are already asleep or pretending to be.
In the morning I awake to find you already gone and the moth lying dead on your pillow.
FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words). So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?More information about these and the Day itself available at nationalflashfictionday.co.uk.