Moth

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I read my book until you come to bed, unsmiling and unwilling to look me in the eye. You pull your t-shirt over your head and throw it at the basket, missing. It lies there, crumpled and sullen, daring me to say something. I pretend to be engrossed in my book but secretly watch as you step out of your jeans and leave them by the side of the bed. I breathe deeply and quietly so that you don’t hear the annoyance in my exhalation. I feel you looking at me, waiting for the usual complaint, but I simply smile as I raise my head from the pages and look into your cold eyes that dare me to criticise.

I put my book down on the bedside table. A night breeze wafts the curtains and I can feel the chill as you slide under the covers, your back towards me. I want to reach out to you, to touch the body I once knew better than my own, but I fear the frost that clings to you, a repellent second skin to freeze me out.

A moth, soft and furry, penetrates the curtains, attracted to the fridge light of our bedroom. It heads for the lamp where it beats against the shade before seeking some respite from the heat. Brown powdered wings beat their way to me and gently caress my cheek, reminding me of an earlier time, an earlier you, an earlier us.

I flap my hands at the moth, shooing it away. You turn to me and grasp my wrist. “It’s only a moth,” you say.  “Put out the light and it will fly back out the window.”

You let go and turn away from me again. I put out the light and lie there in the darkness, my wrist on fire.

“Goodnight,” I whisper but you are already asleep or pretending to be.

In the morning I awake to find you already gone and the moth lying dead on your pillow.
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26 Comments

  1. sonia
    May 26, 2011

    aww. so sad. I guess their relationship is dead or dying.

  2. sonia
    May 26, 2011

    aww. so sad. I guess their relationship is dead or dying.

  3. marc nash
    May 26, 2011

    Lovely rich symbolic writing. Particularly liked the discarded clothes lying sullenly

  4. marc nash
    May 26, 2011

    Lovely rich symbolic writing. Particularly liked the discarded clothes lying sullenly

  5. clarekirkpatrick
    May 27, 2011

    This is beautiful, Nettie. Thank you for sharing.

  6. clarekirkpatrick
    May 27, 2011

    This is beautiful, Nettie. Thank you for sharing.

  7. michaelmac43
    May 27, 2011

    Really excellent!

  8. michaelmac43
    May 27, 2011

    Really excellent!

  9. michaelmac43
    May 27, 2011

    Better than excellent.

    I’d never heard of the #FridayFlash idea till a few days ago. Now that I have read a few more stories, I can see yours is at another level, saying so much with so few words. Hope that this brings lots of new fans to your writing.

    I shall postpone my own entry into the pool for a week or two (I’m a nonfiction writer and this could be fun but a distraction); the concept seems great though.

  10. michaelmac43
    May 27, 2011

    Better than excellent.

    I’d never heard of the #FridayFlash idea till a few days ago. Now that I have read a few more stories, I can see yours is at another level, saying so much with so few words. Hope that this brings lots of new fans to your writing.

    I shall postpone my own entry into the pool for a week or two (I’m a nonfiction writer and this could be fun but a distraction); the concept seems great though.

  11. Martha
    May 27, 2011

    Very sad, and very real. I love the unforgiving ending.

  12. Martha
    May 27, 2011

    Very sad, and very real. I love the unforgiving ending.

  13. Rebecca Emin
    May 27, 2011

    This is so very sad. Well done for fitting so much into so few words.

  14. Rebecca Emin
    May 27, 2011

    This is so very sad. Well done for fitting so much into so few words.

  15. ibc4
    May 27, 2011

    Both gripping and chilling. First class description and character sketching. Loved it.

  16. ibc4
    May 27, 2011

    Both gripping and chilling. First class description and character sketching. Loved it.

  17. Deborah Rickard
    May 28, 2011

    A lovely piece, Nettie, nicely written. I love ‘the frost that clings to you, a repellent second skin to freeze me out’.

  18. Deborah Rickard
    May 28, 2011

    A lovely piece, Nettie, nicely written. I love ‘the frost that clings to you, a repellent second skin to freeze me out’.

  19. Mandy
    May 28, 2011

    Oh, Nettles, so sad but beautifully written.

    I loved the way you showed us him deliberately annoying her by throwing his clothes on the floor without spelling it out. Not an easy task in such a short piece.

    For some reason I had the feeling that the couple lived somewhere hot. Perhaps it was the fridge in the bedroom.I pictured Italy.
    I would like you to write a flash next week and have them get back together and make mad passionate love please. 🙂

  20. Mandy
    May 28, 2011

    Oh, Nettles, so sad but beautifully written.

    I loved the way you showed us him deliberately annoying her by throwing his clothes on the floor without spelling it out. Not an easy task in such a short piece.

    For some reason I had the feeling that the couple lived somewhere hot. Perhaps it was the fridge in the bedroom.I pictured Italy.
    I would like you to write a flash next week and have them get back together and make mad passionate love please. 🙂

  21. ceemartinez
    May 28, 2011

    Wow! Such a short piece but it’s a perfect snapshot of a dead relationship. Wonderful work.

  22. ceemartinez
    May 28, 2011

    Wow! Such a short piece but it’s a perfect snapshot of a dead relationship. Wonderful work.

  23. alisonwells
    May 29, 2011

    Brilliant, really love this, very, very effective and wonderful images.

  24. alisonwells
    May 29, 2011

    Brilliant, really love this, very, very effective and wonderful images.

  25. Derek Flynn
    May 29, 2011

    Great piece of writing. Reminded me of Robert Lowell’s “Man and Wife”.

  26. Derek Flynn
    May 29, 2011

    Great piece of writing. Reminded me of Robert Lowell’s “Man and Wife”.

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