A short story
Short-stories are what I'm all about. They're why I signed up to the ICW module (not to suggest that I don't enjoy poetry - far from it!) - I love writing short stories and I'm looking to improve. I find I can be vastly more expressive with them than I can with poetry - and I think I'm more adept at leaving things unsaid in short story format. This is a first draft, and untitled.
Kristen pulled the hair out of her face, spat into a kidney-dish, and spat again. Hollow green light sickened her features and pulled her face out, already made thin and sad by long, fruitless hours. She went to the sink and pulled the tap on the boiler. Scalding water screeched out, and she whisked her hands through it, teeth gritted.
The results-chart was already worked through to the eighth page. With a sigh she collapsed into the little chair at her desk and added another mark – “Negative”.
Long lab hours made you clammy. Her shirt, under the lab coat, was stuck to her joints with sweat. Her underwear was rucked up uncomfortably and she smelt raw, thick and vile. There used to be something lively about the smell of piss and sweat – a day spent, worn out, ready for washing off and putting on again tomorrow. Now it made her feel just dirty.
She toggled through the synthesis chart on the computer screen. The molecule should have got some result, but nothing. Inert, inert, inert, another dead chemical. One hundred twenty tests and not one positive.
She cleared her eyes – with a handkerchief, she didn’t need another bout of conjunctivitis just now – and looked unsteadily at the clock. 4 o’clock. Morning or afternoon?
She sank very slowly down onto her sleeves and fell asleep.
* * *
Kristen woke up in bed. The sun was low in the sky outside and she couldn’t tell if it was going up or coming down. The shower was running in the en suite. She rolled over very slowly, marvelling in the softness of the sheets and feeling the dirt in her hair and skin.
Mark came out of the shower, shining in the water, towelling himself off. When he saw that she was awake he gave her a tight smile and sat down on the bed. She slipped out and stumbled into the cubicle.
The water was deliciously hot and heavy against her skin. She felt her own body up and down, stretching out all the muscles. Some of them were tight and bunched – others were weak. The muscles behind her eyes were sore, holding her eyes dead ahead. There was a little phantom pain in the old scar on her abdomen.
She walked back into the bedroom. Mark was stretched over the bed, unclothed, reading a copy of some book. She collapsed down onto the bed with him, rolling over and holding onto his broad chest, kissing him once, twice.
“I thought you’d gone out.” He said, not looking away from the book.
“I thought I was on to something.”
“You need to get some distance. I hardly see you.”
“You don’t have to be sorry.”
She reached up, pulled the book from his hands and kissed him. They made love then, slowly, enjoying the soft feel of each other’s body, the hard press of the wooden bed-frame, the swallowing warmth of the sheets. Afterwards they lay panting.
“Are you going to get some distance?” He asked.
“Yes.” She said, softly. “Okay.”
Sooner or later she was going to have to tell him.