• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 03
Image by

Frame By Frame

It will be necessary, today, to take things frame by frame.

But if I’m being honest with myself, that has been necessary for a while.

I’ve woken up to the washed-out light of what I suppose is late morning. I lie as still as I can. I think the jagged fangs of light glaring through the top of the curtain rail look like the teeth of a crocodile. I listen to the traffic beyond the glass — a low, repeating rush. Like waves.

I pull myself from the dirty snowdrift of bedlinen. I watch toothpaste marbled with blood curl itself down the plughole. I meet my reflection.

I’m not sure how long I stare at myself. I take in my sugar skull face, my slightly glazed eyes. I’m transfixed by my own pupils. Their blackness is staring back into me.

I’m taken back to staring into another black circle — the plastic bucket he placed in the bath, to fill with kettles of water, so we could wash. It was the first week of the new year, and naturally the building had lost all heating. Something to do with the communal boiler failing.

“Careful, keep back,” he warned, and I shuffled my feet away from him, closer to the little plastic stool I was perched on. He reached over the lip of the bath, poured me more hot water. I saw him glance down dispassionately at me, naked and pale and blemished and curled in on myself. The indignity of intimacy.

“Let me know if you need any more. I’ll leave the bathroom door open.”

I blink him away. I’m back confronting my own face, lined with all my failings.


Frame By Frame

I pull on the clothes crumpled accusingly on the bathroom floor. Outside, it’s not as cold as it has been, but the sky is already shifting from grey into blue.

I’m not sure where I’m going. Only that I’d rather be walking than standing still and wondering, yet again, what he is doing now. Right this instant.

A sliver of moon is already hanging in the sky, small, like an anxiously chewed-off nail.

The words repeat themselves in my head, in time with my footsteps; why do I keep doing this to myself?