Thursday, 5 January 2017

SHOELACES

by Barry Basden

She never knew how to love him, she guessed. Couldn’t give him whatever it was he needed from her and slowly their bed turned to stone. One night after dinner he told her he was moving to Toronto. They talked about it calmly, civilly, then all at once she was on her knees in front of the sofa, looking up at him. He didn’t move.

In the expanding silence she felt her mind dissolving. She wanted to hug his legs, lay her head in his lap, bite him maybe. But all she did was take hold of the crease in his pants and press the soft cloth between her thumb and forefinger.

The wall clock chimed the half hour. She looked into his face and tried to think. Then something broke loose and she was sobbing. “Please,” she said. “Please. Tell me what you want. Please.”

He watched her, not moving, looking like some kind of trapped animal. “I don’t know,” he said finally.

She let go of his trousers and sat back on her heels. There was light from the hallway shining on carpet, the ticking clock, his shoelaces neatly tied.


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"Shoelaces" was first published in Atticus Review, 2011.