KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Flash Fiction: 596 words


by Nick Lord Lancaster

It’s one of those nights. We’re almost telepathic about it now, and it’s no surprise to hear a taxi pull up outside my open window shortly after midnight. She waves up at me when I look out. When I open the door she has the usual look on her face. I pre-empt her spoken apology with a hug, and she responds by sighing.

“I’m already in bed,” I tell her, and she nods. I’ve been lying awake for an hour or so, even after a long day and late night. No real reason, just a general sense of unease. I don’t know what her reason is: we don’t make conversation as she undresses. She’s wearing a tracksuit with nothing underneath, shoes with no socks. She removes it all with no pretence of elegance, and climbs into my bed. I hang my dressing gown on the back of the door and join her.

We have an arrangement, D— and I. Two or three times a month she comes to my flat and keeps the other half of my bed warm, or I go to hers and reciprocate. No sex; no complicated emotional hassles. We just take our clothes off, hold each other, and kid ourselves that everything’s ok.

We can hear the trains from my window. A mile or so to the line, a twenty-minute walk, the other side of town; and still we can hear them. The long ones. A distant trundling drone that goes on so long we stop noticing and we think it’s silence, and then it stops and the real silence seems somehow eerie.

D— has had enough. She mumbles something and flumps out of bed, walks delicately across the floor, throws open the curtain. For a second I can see her silhouetted in the glow of a streetlight. And I know it’s distorted and fleeting, and she’s shut the window and curtain before my eyes adjust properly, but I can’t help feeling she’s looking a bit thin.

I remember the first time I saw her naked, back when we lived together, two lonely strangers thrown together by financial necessity. Then I thought it would be sex. Angry, drunken rebound sex. Her divorce had just been finalized. She drowned her sorrows and came home to find me in the middle of a video. She didn’t want to talk, so we watched together while she leaned on my shoulder. Gradually she started to stroke my arm and leg and flirted with the side of my face until I gave in.

She tasted of vodka and crisps. There on the sofa I fumbled her breasts free and a few minutes later, in bed, we both discarded the last of our clothes. But it wasn’t to be. Our frantic fondling gave way to a more relaxed stroking. In time, we slept.

Now, nearly ten years on, those breasts have long since stopped being exciting. Objectively, they’re almost exactly the same. A little heavier, perhaps. A millimetre or two lower. The change is in me. I have no urge to caress or suck them. Erecting the nipples is no longer on my agenda. They are my pillow. Her legs, entangled in mine, feel like protection. The curves of her navel and buttocks are the contours of my comfort zone. The sound of her breath, a lullaby.

It’s dark again and D— climbs back into bed, nudging a couple of times as she settles into position, then easing against me. The bed moans like a distant foghorn. She drapes a warm arm over me and I relax.

Nick Lord Lancaster
Issue 4, Fall 2015

writes short stories based on pieces of classical music and things he finds out from Wikipedia. He lives in Essex [England] with his wife and two daughters (one human, one canine).

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