Sweet dreams

A brush against my skin. The mattress moves.

‘Babe wake up,’ something soft and wet against my shoulder. My mind slowly returns, and I roll over to face him. The soft light coming from the curtains silhouettes him.

‘I was having such a horrible dream,’ I say.

‘What about?’

‘I… I dreamt I was in a factory. But there was nobody there, just these cages… like crates with bars…’ I see it now; the white stark walls, the dirty cracked windows. The cages. Rows of them going back to the furthest wall ‘There was someone shouting but I couldn’t see anyone. And there was this smell… like something stale and old… it was disgusting.’

‘It was just a dream,’ he moves my hair away from my face.

‘But it felt so real. It was lucid.’

‘I’m sure it means nothing. Go back asleep.’

I curl closer, and he rests his arm on me for comfort. His breathing is timed and soothing. I kiss his arm and allow myself to drift off once more.

Light has broken through a crack in the curtains. I am disorientated; I can’t determine what is bothering me. I don’t remember my dream. I stretch and reach out, but my fingers meet nothing. I look over. The other half of the bed is made and undisturbed. I pick up the pillow. I can only smell laundry detergent and a vague hint of my perfume.


The intruder

My back aches. I cannot blink. One second will give them the advantage. Moisture slips between my hand and the baseball bat. I grip it tighter.

‘I told my friend I’d be back inside in two minutes,’ I say to the shadow hovering by the shed ‘If I’m not back by then, he’ll have called the police. Just go. Please. I don’t want any trouble.’

They deliberate. I grip the bat with both hands and step forward. I don’t look like much, but they turn and run for the open gate.

I wait a moment to be certain, but they’re gone. I check the lock on the gate, before dragging my heavy wheely bin behind it to block it. The locks completely broken. I’ll have to fix that tomorrow. I look at the old tin shed, unfazed by the night’s events. My secret is still safe.

Back inside, I lock the door and admire the silence of being alone once more. The motion light for the garden turns off. I prop the bat by the door, and suddenly smell the burnt baked beans I’d left on the stove.

‘Bollocks,’ I say softly, now think of murder.

The station 

‘Do you think they’ll call?’

‘No. Why would they?’

We stirred our tea and shared a glance, before looking opposite ways. Me at the trees on the road and you at the train track.

‘But what if they do-’

‘They won’t. How could they?’

You chew your lip, eyes narrowing ‘What do you think they’re thinking right now?’

I shrug and drain half the cup ‘If I knew I’d be a clairvoyant not a disbanded servant.’

You kick your feet, the rhythm the same as a heartbeat. Your pale ginger hair glows: it’s almost as if you’re wearing a halo. You sip tea: bitter. You add more sugar. You move the brew over your tongue and pull a face ‘How do they drink this?’

‘Why do they do anything?’ I say bored. This isn’t the reaction I’d expected. We’re alone but in the background, the people out there are getting louder.

‘Do you think they saw us?’

‘I would say so.’

A pause. More people are cramped on the platform, blocking our view out of the window now. On the other side, flashing lights and gentleman wearing green and yellow. Neither side notice us sat in the closed down café. I wager no one will.

‘Do you think he anticipated the train?’

‘Yes, that’s how they commute.’

‘But then I don’t understand-’

‘You don’t need to understand. It’s done. There is nothing that can be done now.’

‘But why did he step backwards if he knew the train was imminent?’

I stare at you, placing my cup back on the table ‘You screamed that you had killed his dog then tried to hand him the remains. The only normal thing to do was get away from you.’

You look down at the blood on your top, before looking back at the platform ‘Fragile things aren’t they?’