Inhere

By Rodger, Ellen | Hecate, January 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

Inhere


Rodger, Ellen, Hecate


In Here

In here the only thing moving is my hand.

My boyfriend sits still in a chair watching me. I am stretched out across the bottom corner of the bed with a pillow over my face. The chair creaks as his body moves forward, he says please Gerry please. I am straining to pretend that I am alone in this room. Please let me, he says in that way that children who aren't being listened to talk, hypnotised by the sound of their own voices.

This morning I watched the man next door mow his front yard. His utter gracelessness; blotchy and patchy and bald and hairy and skin cancers and falling fat and skinny ankles and big bony feet. Skin that drapes. Moles sprouting hairs. Tits. Growths. I sat on the balcony wall drinking a cup of tea, letting his ugliness bear down on me.

My boyfriend is saying please. Please Gerry. Please let me. If I could fit this pillow into my ears and block him out I would. He is destroying this for me. Behind the pillow, behind these closed eyes I am stretched out along the balcony wall with my dress pulled up and my legs apart. I lift my hips off the bed. I am this, this is all I am.

After I come I roll onto my stomach and lie motionless. My boyfriend gets out of the chair and walks over to the bed. You can feel the empty seconds as he decides whether or not he will touch me, and then just before he does, a silence of sickening expectation. His fingers tap my shoulder. He says Gerry, whispering, as if he is trying to wake me. I swallow the urge to flick his hand away and scratch where he has touched me. He is reminding me. That he is here. That it is his turn now.

My boyfriend stands at the balcony door eating a bowl of cereal, milk splashing round his mouth as he talks. Be careful being out here with no clothes on, he says looking down at me, that guy next door's probably a perve. Probably, I say. The cereal bowl tips slightly in his hand, dripping milk and soggy cornflakes over his shoe.

On the way to work I stop under a shop awning and light a cigarette. Glare flashes off car trimmings and the air shimmers purplish with petrol fumes. Buses bank up along Cleveland Street, hardly moving between each light change. Parents and children rush towards the school, holding hands tightly as they cross the road. Lebanese shopkeepers drink coffee at their counters. In the supermarket next door the checkout girl sits on a stool with her feet dangling, reading New Idea.

It's a mistake to have stopped for this long. It's a mistake to let myself think for even a moment about taking the day off. But I do, and by the time I've finished my cigarette I am looking for a public phone to call my boss.

In here it could be winter. The barmaid sits at the end of the bar reading a book, a cardigan round her shoulders. The smell is of rank refrigeration and spilt drinks that never get cleaned up properly. A row of poker machines glow along one wall, their computerised voices murmuring play me I'm yours. I phone my boss and tell him I've got the flu, blocking my nose for effect.

The barmaid looks up from her book and asks if I want a drink. It's to do with the recklessness of taking the day off that I order a double tia maria and milk. I sit on a stool and watch myself in the mirror, sipping my drink as if it is something I do every morning.

A man in a suit walks in. He goes behind the bar and runs his finger across the mirror, inspects it then flicks its invisible contents onto the floor. …

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