Finding a voice - creative writing for women (text graphic)

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The bed

In bed in the dark she’ll catch herself pretending not to notice the night pass, another one, each night pretending not to notice the last night’s passing. Husssh. We don’t speak of it here she said. Instead, pushing her fingers inside the hole, inside the hole in the underdown, the hole in the mattress, the hole in the floor. If you put your eye to that small hole far left you could see the centre of the earth bubbling, or was that a lie. Instead could she only see a reflection of her eye or another’s gaze returning her curiosity. She was not to know if it were someone else’s eye or just her own eye looking back. Maybe even a mirror held up to the small hole beneath the bed-room-floor. A small hole which had begun through the bed. We are talking layers. Layers she had dug through the horse hair mattress. A small hole growing beyond beneath, inside. As beneath the bed [what some might call the void – but she wasn’t keen on that word] there was the hole into nothingness, hole where she dangled her souvenirs. Where she would spend nights just spread open, face down in the dark. Face down in the dark, where she’d imagine herself falling, falling and caught by whoever was beyond.

The very first time she ever slept in a bed she was alone. The very last time she’ll sleep in a bed she will likely be alone. Her very first night that was. Her very last night that is. But who is to know how it will end and with whom she will spend her very last night. And in that space between he’d said – Angel, take me to your bed.

And she’d enjoyed the feel of the request, the feel of the diagonal in partnership, the vertical forced into marriage, the horizontal found by accident one night in a turn of the ball and socket joint swivelled in too big a bed. They’d enjoyed the feel of the too big a bed. The feel of being wrapped in place somehow, despite it all, the way bodies lend themselves to yet another easy death. All long forgotten now. All of it comes and goes.

Comb her out. Yes, comb out her imprint when you are ready to forget the night, that way she’d twisted herself to the sounds they’d rose to. Only missed seed that night, only a languor that night, another liquored martini olive rolled across the bed while several layers in their calls carried inside dust mites living off their skin.

Now she lives over easy. She sleeps in this bed with you each night, inside a thorax opening in and out sprouting running legs and teeth, several swollen tongues, when she was once fascinated by the iron lung, to count the grinding of breath, with just a head exposed, with only a mirror to see. But now she wants you released, free, free to move, free to be pulled to your left side, finding herself sleep to your right side, not one side nor the other of you does she hate.

Forget the lung for now – that was before – now she could look at you spread apart like this, exhibited like this but what does that tell her. Ha! She knew it, forty-three years of false memory, the bed laid out, made up each morning, each morning playing games with sheets. Sheets turned over, sheets smoothed out, four hands working as one. Tucking in, mimicking those tight hospital corners. Each morning the lie of order, shaking indents from pillows, to lie there quite still, to forget everything you’d said. Yet at night again, leaking memory again, all those memories seeped into that achesome centre. Good dream sopped this mattress has had her all ways, around her wrists, around her thighs, belt tight, no tics now, only a worn underdown stuffed with messages.

Did it bother you that she tore all the sheets, it’s called her nesting instinct. That she stole all your opening lines, it’s called a woman’s intuition. Twitching again to begin again, engorged where again she lies you down sleep bloated lies on you calling –

Did you feel her spine divide. Do you feel her spine not yet ready to divide. Not yet down to the curved bone of her. Fluted she sings, Go on.

The spine again, you liked that. You liked the emptiness of the room, of the mattress, the black mattress pulled now dragged to the floor. A black dragged image impatiently pulled again.

The night was the mattress. The spine cutting her in two was the mattress. In her head since long gone she’d wanted to tell you, she’d wanted to tell you.

She was fragile. You were not expecting that. She wore cream stockings to bed, one laddering over the knee. You were not expecting that. A blue paisley dress she’d pulled high hitched high while she was dreaming in her blue dress, dreaming that she’d spilled pink tea from an oversized tea pot all over your leg, but don’t go there with your cheap digressions and your cheap analysis she does not want to hear and she was not expecting that. That she saw herself remove her dress. Her own blue dress. A moment’s discomfort let down when all she wanted was for you to stay still, to feel the arousal, to feel your hand persuade, open, open her lips over the dark thumb, opening her over a few pillows. Climax me. Her voice startled both of you. Climax me. A climax still finds its way to be cruel, still finds its way to repetition. This feeling on hard, this feeling on a hard finger pushed higher pushed in pushed higher pleases in pulled out tastes of repetition again, between them smelt of smoke dispersing. That was when she picked an orange from the bowl beside the bed, licked his fingers, bit quickly into the unpeeled rind to stop herself from screaming, betrayed herself on a plum.

It was the time of summer fruits the very first time she’d taken him to her bed, that very first time that is, that very first time that was. That time when she’d decorated the eggs, the edges of her bed, bowls filled with fruit, candy, even some in the goesunder. She’d picked, she’d arranged, she’d sometimes wear costumes. I like to make myself into a still life whenever I can, she said. Instead it began with a bed, with a black mattress, with a black mattress pulled to the floor, off centre, to the left. A pattern of stars stain, tobacco spilt over the bed. Around the bed, the discarded towel, one shoe, an orange – an orange carrying an imprint of her teeth. Cream coloured stockings laddered over one knee. Her damp blue dress removed. A martini glass, a half-chewed olive, a large tea pot, a brown paper bag smeared with chocolate choux pastry, yellowed cream. She hadn’t expected to salivate so early in the day. What is it you hear in her, not flowers, no, you had not expected that, but flowers keep interrupting her, yes flowers kept interrupting the bed, not corpse filled, no. But then an image came to her. A moment came back to her, of watching him pull the flowers off the bed. That unexpected small clip of film suddenly interrupting everything Last Tango In Paris. Remember that. The TV flickering in the room, over their bed. Last Tango and Marlon. Yes – Marlon. He was pulling the flowers from his dead wife's body. She can see it now. Body and flowers beautifully arranged on her bed, her perfectly arranged body in a beautifully arranged wedding gown, the whole scene framed with pink flowers. Serene until he begins to cry out. Serene until he begins to rip the excess flowers from Rosa‘s bed. Pig fucker. Even if a husband lives 200 fucking years, he’s never going to be able to discover his wife’s true nature. I mean, I might be able to comprehend the universe, but I’ll never discover the truth about you, never.

No, she had not intended any of that. Not Rosa’s corpse. Nor his cries, not flowers but maybe something hornier, cut not cut, cut not scented, cut but cream, her silk stockings placed carefully at the edge of the bed, but not that variety of flower, never, never that particular bed, not that particular corpse. Maybe something less dependent on sleep.

Sometimes weeks happen, sometimes days happen, one version of her life lying about the next, one version of her life whispering about the other, one version of her life peeled from her thigh, slipped over her knee, over her ankle. Silk ripped impatiently from the toes. The sound of her calling Kiss me. Kiss her from the flowers that persist in entering her sentences. Updead. Yes make her updead. There is no use in trying to pretend. The bed was indeed a grave. Each night the bedroom a kind of rehearsal room. A grave of flowers where you fucked her clay stained with a stone pushed in her mouth. Or was it on a marble bed that you’d lay her down on to the polished coolness, a dead man’s name, his death date imprinted on her buttocks. The crunch of gravel under their feet digging digging in a place of old messages, dates, carved verse, the faint smell of urine, rat droppings, no words between them. Not now – No.

No one noticed that the flowers had died in her arms, slept in her bed in her brief absence. This bed. Her most recent of beds. The bed where she writes you, where they’d begin again, end and begin. Still.

Did she tell you that in her brief absence she’d left an unruly bouquet of flowers on the pillow, yes, wild flowers – they wilt the quickest, they wilt almost as soon as they’re picked, as if to defy the act, as if to say no to the thought – when she’d so briefly left, when she’d so swiftly fled to sleep in a stranger’s bed, only to return, trying to return, trying and lying in another bed for no more than required, lying in another bed. Rolling tobacco in skin, cooling her skin in cold unfamiliar sheets, until she got distracted by her own bed again, so quickly, she became distracted by a longing to be back there with you, to be back in her own. She was already back in her own bed with no time to disperse with the flowers. Instead she saw that you’d slept with them, crushed blooms lost colour, dead heads. It was then she’d become distracted by fripperies, by picking open the sheets, by the fripperies. Undoing the undergarments, picking apart stitches, pulling out wadding, sinking her fingers deep into the hole again, into the hole in the mattress, searching out the faint memory of the hole, the hole and the squeaking. Listening out for the squeaking memory, the mice are very sensitive to fornication you’d said. Fornicate – to sleep with someone one is not married to – to arch – vaulted chamber later brothel –

And as they pressed themselves back in again, she was glad that the flowers had died, it seemed in keeping. It seemed befitting that they’d died in her bed. It seemed only right that they were pressed back together at the end. That the mattress sank in the middle. That they were rolled mouth to face, thigh to belly, tongue to scar, waiting for the dreaming eye, waiting for the slow movement of balls cupped in her palm. But that’s how it goes. One version of your life happens in weeks in three days, no one notices.