Lovers want me to do something about the bear in my bedroom. Grizzly. It sleeps in the alcove where I wanted a bookshelf, a half purr, half growl rises and falls from its fur. It cannot be shifted. The landlord gave me a decent deal on the rent.
It never opens its eyes, but yawns, rolls out the purple velvet of its tongue, and show me incisors the colour of a conch. The lace curtains waft on its breath, a warm fan. If I sit close enough I don't have to put the radiators on. I close my eyes sometimes sitting on the floor. I can smell salmon colouring shallow rivers gun metal and yellow, I can picture fish leaping out of the water, snatching rainbows on their backs for a heartbeat before they're sporked by a claw.
The bear sharpens my senses. His claws remind me of a fork I dug up in the garden. Hard, scarred, etched with dirt. Once, I painted his claws red, and wondered what name they'd give a nail varnish the same shade as my blood.
I don’t think they are ever used. The claws. The bear never goes outside, not that I know of. Hunts. I didn't bring him here. He is just there. He has always been here, since I moved to the city, snoring between the wardrobe I didn’t choose and the radiator I can't bleed. Whenever I bring some guy back, I cover the bear with a throw that matches the bedspread. Let him sleep.
Angela Readman won the National Flash Fiction Day Competition. Her short story collection, Don't Try This at Home, won a Saboteur Award in 2015.