All I wanted to do was lie in the thick late-afternoon light and watch the spider in the corner of the ceiling, and listen to the cars passing outside the window, and drift in and out of sleep. But of course I couldn’t. Not while Melissa was there, threatening to talk about every little thing that came to her mind.
I closed my eyes again. I imagined her gone. I focussed on the quiet. It was so peaceful. I think I may have dropped off for a second, and when I opened my eyes, I thought she’d slipped away, bored with me and my room. I sat up and looked at the door.
“What’s up?” she said. She’d moved to the chair in the corner. She was playing with her bracelet, and twirling it round and round her wrist.
“Nothing’s up,” I said. I hoped I sounded bored, or irritatingly placid so that she might decide there was nothing happening, and move on to find excitement elsewhere.
But she slouched into the chair, and lolled her head back. She lowered an arm and stroked the rug with her fingertips. She looked extraordinarily beautiful.
Please don’t talk, I thought. Don’t talk, or move. Follow the example of me and the spider, and allow the dust motes to float and settle.
But she was unable to be still. This much I’d learned. So I held my breath. She gathered herself and sat at the edge of the chair, and twirled that bracelet round and round. Fiddling. I could tell she was looking to say something. She crossed her legs, and began to swing her foot backwards and forwards, over and over.
“Stop it,” I said loudly, surprising myself and her. She became motionless, watching me very closely, trying to figure me out. I’d captured the moment, and it was mine to release, and I imagined that without any further action from me we would remain frozen while the spider watched us, unsure, and the dust came to settle in thick layers on us and all around us.
© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.