Next to a broken set of drawers is a couch with the seat pillows missing and on top of the couch is a mattress and between the mattress and the couch is a dead body. I’m pretty sure it’s dead. The arm dangling down the side of the couch is bloodied and one of the feet are missing from the legs sticking out the other end. I squint and take another bite of my Crunchy Nut. Yep. It’s dead alright.
I think about calling the cops. I’ve never called the cops before. I Google to see if I can just book them online or something but they said in a case like this I should call. They need an app for these sort of things, like an Uber for the police. I decide one of the neighbours would probably call instead.
That night my alarm goes off reminding me to put the bins out. My roommates are away so I can’t ignore it. The dead body is still there but the mattress is gone which means now I can see his face. He’s lying face up, his head tilted to one side so he’s looking straight at me. The blood from his arm stops at his elbow and his mouth and eyes are open. Mosquitoes fly lazily between what’s left of his teeth.
The next morning I rush out the front, half asleep and already late for work. My car starts on the second try and I look over my shoulder to check for oncoming traffic. One of the ladies from down at the retirement village is out walking her dog and I watch her stroll by the dead body. She lets her dog leap up onto the guy’s lap and lick his crotch. I get a funny feeling in my stomach that I pretend doesn’t happen then take off with a squeal.
When I get home the couch is gone but the body is still there. He has been rolled off the couch so now he has his face in the dirt and arse in the air. I feel a sense of loss and sadness come over me. I liked that couch. I ignore the bins so I don’t have to take them back inside.
I get woken up in the middle of the night by my roommates who are home and without keys. I glare when I open the door but manage a bleary hello. Reluctantly I follow them to the kitchen and ask them about their trip. After they’re done I ask,
“Did you see the body?”
We all wander outside. The gravel of the driveway hurts my feet and they walk ahead of me. When I catch up I point across the street but the body is gone.
“That’s a set of drawers.”
I shrug, “Someone must have taken it.”
“Should we grab the drawers?”
“Nah they’re broken.”
A wind whips down the street and I shudder. We argue over who should take the bins inside.
This house is creaking more often than it should, more often that it has before. My eyes run along cracks in the ceiling. I imagine myself small enough to climb up the wall and through one of these cracks. I imagine it runs all the way through the ceiling, up past the rafters and outside to the roof. Your breath is hot against my shoulder. In a house this quiet a creak is a quake and a gust of wind through the window a hurricane. Your breath is hot against my shoulder. This is where we live. You and I. In a quiet so fragile that we are often frightened to make any noise at all. Lest the silence collapses. Lest the walls collapse. Lest we collapse. It’s raining outside and for a moment I am lost in it. The tapping of drops against the pavement outside block out the leaky shower down the hall, the leaky sink in the kitchen and further still the drip dripping of the leak in the laundry. I shut my eyes and listen as water runs along pavement. I watch it in my mind crawling along the ground and soaking into the garden bed behind our heads beyond this leaking creaking house. It feeds weeds and the strawberries we optimistically planted the month before. They’re dead now. Hair tickles my shoulder and I open my eyes. This house is creaking more often than it should, more often than it has before. We are frightened to make any noise at all. During the day we tie our hands to the ceiling so our feet don’t touch the ground. We tape our mouths shut and breathe only shallow breaths through our noses. This is where we live. We said we are happy here. Hair tickles my shoulder. I watch your chest rise up.
I imagine myself small enough to run along your side, dipping along your ribs and leaping over hips. I would rest between your fingers and feel safe curled against your stomach. The house would be so far from here that the creaking wouldn’t reach me. In a house this quiet a creak is a quake. Apathy and cynicism are playing doctor in my head. Apathy and cynicism are playing doctor in this house. They push under my skin, plugging my pores with plaster and dust. Apathy watches as I break out and cynicism scoffs. Apathy watches as the house collapses and cynicism laughs. I can feel my skin expanding as it bubbles and bursts. I feel it sagging and I can see myself watching myself melt into the floor as time pushes down on me. As this house pushes down on me. My bones are creaking more often than they should. I feel your face frown against my shoulder, lips curling against me. Your eyes are still closed. I lock mine with your eyelids as if you were staring back. It’s raining outside and for a moment I am lost in you. We said we are happy here. I close my eyes. In my mind I leave my body floating above us both. I drift upwards, pushing through the cracks in the ceiling, pushing through the rafters and out through the roof. Even without flesh and blood I feel the rain. The tapping of drops against my self block out the creaking in my mind. I close my eyes and slide down the tiles. I slide into the gutter, down through dead leaves and swirling through the drain pipe. I mix with the run off. I watch it in my mind as I crawl with the water along the ground. I didn’t know this before but the pavement is still warm from the day’s sun. I smile as I soak into the garden bed behind our heads beyond this leaking creaking house. My essence feeds the weeds, feeds the dead strawberries that we planted together the month before. I leave this house. In bed my body smiles.
Rain spills through the cracks.