Where is the blood? Check the sheets, there should be fist-sized pools of red in the hollows of the bed, as if from a dozen animal bites. Check your body, where are the marks left by claws and teeth? Where are the pinking indentations in your shoulders; in the soft, helpless skin of the stomach?

‘You don’t deserve such a mauling.’ He says, so kind. Perhaps instead there should be a wolf’s pelt at the foot of the bed; unhappily vanquished. I start to laugh, hang up. The laugh feels dangerous, edged with pieces of glass. Light another cigarette, feel your ribs creak. Hear the rattle beginning in lungs saturated with winter damp.

My train rockets through the evening. Above me, the sky cracks its shell and spills soft roses. The faces of my fellow passengers are idling in neutral, they have not seen that the sky is on fire, or they don’t care. The platforms are cold, the engine of the waiting train ticks over; clucking of an impatient tongue against the roof of the mouth.


‘How did she take it?’ They are soft and solicitous, but detail-hungry. Gentle vultures. Beaks slim as scalpels.

She lost all of the water in her body. That pretty ocean rose to her eyes in waves and broke on the shore of my decision. The sky mirrored her in sympathy. How naturally the rain drips from the roof, how unconscious and without thought! The rain comes again now, the sound makes me blank again.

Kneel on the bed. Her smell must be in there, caught in the pale sheet. Her shoulders and hips have left their impression. Put that long wolf’s nose to the cotton, I can’t smell her. Relief. Imagine again the dip of her bones in the mattress, her sweat creating the huddled outline of her sleeping body. Get up. Strip the bed. Put the shroud in the washing machine.

We are a landmass split by a cataclysm. You know comfort is an impossibility for me. Like sleeping in a too-soft bed; after a while I begin to wake in inexplicable pain.

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