There’s a child downstairs that I’m ignoring. I have business to attend to right here. She’s great, the child. It’s not that I don’t like her, a whirlwind of incomprehension, but she is young. A sapling. Sapping. At the stage in her life where autonomy is not on her radar. Her miniscule radar that circles entirely around herself. Free moments are rare, like saffron. One single thread invigorates a stagnating stew. The only time I can fully escape is time I steal sitting on the toilet. I’ve accustomed myself to administrating on porcelain. Connecting and rejecting. I empty out my inbox as I empty out myself, I pass on unwanted invites as I pass the water from within. Void and avoid. Availability a currency.
It started with an email. A quick appointment phoned in before the flush. Then came sorting out our calendar and agreeing to the bake sales. Checking recipes for impressive-looking cakes on the final wipe. Relieved. Encouraged when I found something I could muster – after a vigorous washing of hands. I got so much done I started drinking more water just for the excuse. Pull the door to, grasp an extra second. She’s a tyrannosaur, my daughter. Escape the line of sight while she thunders, blindly hunting.
Social media was next. Not strictly admin, true. My call of nature is the howl of a three-year-old biting at my leg. Better to hide from her in here than thrust my apathy towards her crafts, or dance, or tediously long game, directly in her face. I wonder if any of my friends would care that I respond to their newborns, wedding dresses and coiffed restaurant meals with platitudes and likes , as I haul the day’s waste away from me.
Scrolling up and down turned into swiping left and right. I met someone quite quickly. Enticing him with photos from before the baby bump. Before the muscles split, when I stretched out beyond the point of ever coming back. We’ve been speaking for a month. A month of pretending that I’m not getting pins and needles from sitting with my hole embraced by the lav, elbows digging into thighs.
He says he’s 35, his picture looks 30. Salt in his hair and a crow’s foot or two. He says he’s a cyclist. I tease him. Ask if he’s the sort who wears headphones and baggy jeans, as he weaves on and off the pavement. Charging pedestrians like he’s in a video game. Or perhaps he pumps iron calves in neon Lycra in wind, rain or shine. He says he likes sports, kayaks, and surfing. I say I do too. I mean, I saw a surfer once . They kept falling in. I tell him as if it were me. Ha ha, smiley face. Aubergine aubergine. He wants to see me in a bikini. I send him a photo. It’s just a bare shoulder. I can’t get a good angle for anything else from where I’m sitting.
I tell him that he makes me wet while I relieve myself of clots, piss and stink.
He tells me he’s in love.
About The Author
Martha Lane is a writer from the North East of England. She took a child-shaped hiatus from writing for a few years but in April started writing flash fiction and now can’t stop. So far in 2020 her work has been published in Perhappened Mag, All Female Menu, Bandit, Reflex Fiction, Palm-Sized Press and had stories longlisted and shortlisted in various competitions. When she isn’t sourcing a constant supply of snacks for bottomless stomachs, she is finishing work on a slightly unusual novella. @poor_and_clean.
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