Featured in the 2016 Spring Issue of Rambunctious
By Julianne Bazydlo, ’16
Calum sorts through his keys. He presses his thumb to the teeth when he thinks he has the right one. He sticks it into the doorknob. The metal clicks home.
All of the lights are off. Calum slips off his trainers and slides across the carpeted hallway. A glow and a murmur greet him at the end of his path.
Calum stands stiff and debates. He could nudge the mass on the couch, unwrap the blankets like a gift, tuck into the warmth and stay there all night. Or he could brush his teeth and go to bed alone. Calum likes to pretend he has this choice. But he shivered when he heard the mechanical voice on the tube, the voice that held something the lump on the couch would never admit.
Calum rubs his socked toes along the carpet, shifts his weight and realizes he’s not used to it yet. Ten years and he’s still wading in hot water when he gets home. Warm, but about to boil. Calum wants to stare and cut his hands off. He wants to turn a person into wax and carry the figurine everywhere in his pocket. He wants to pack up his things and move back home and live in a world where privacy weighs more than magazines. But he can’t. He’s got something here.
Wring him out by the spine it’ll feel better than faking it.
A snore crawls up from the couch.
Calum’s hands twitch. He steps forward. Here lies his beloved, drool encrusted and swathed in fleece. Calum’s eyes trace the body sprawled on the furniture, the delicate nose and jaw highlighted. by artificial light. Late night nonsense plays on the television screen, forms creatures that laugh at Calum and stomp over the planes of a ruddy cheek. Calum swipes a shadow away from the skin and snaps his hand away, again.
Eyelids jump in response to the touch. Calum watches a human form from the lump. Downy blond hair, eyes like Irish mud. Ten years.
“You’re lonely,” Calum whispers.
“Sure sounded it.”
“You’re the one touching me like a-“
Calum puts a finger to cracked lips. It’s pushed away as his companion yawns, arms stretched out, a sly smile growing.
“You miss me?” Another grin.
“Sure, over here touchin my face like a-“
“But you are a-“
“Good friend of Tesco’s employee of the month.”
A smile that could slice a throat. “So you saw. You know, Cal, if you’re an old lady looking for milk of magnesia…”
“I know where to go.”
“Damn right you do.” Closing a gap. “They like the way I talk. The old ladies.”
Calum laughs. “You fraud.”
“You are. Signing autographs.”
“We both are.”