Under the Bed 1

by unknown....

The idea had been to get an early night and come up with a proper plan tomorrow, but it was pretty clear by now that wasn’t working out. The light had gone off, followed with Alex dutifully rolling onto his side and squeezing his eyes shut - all the mechanisms of going to sleep - but he knew pretty quickly it was all an act.

He could almost feel it, wedged behind the box of trainers he hadn’t worn for years but couldn’t bring himself to throw out, as if it were giving off a physical heat. By now he’d worked himself into such a state he was half convinced it was about to make kindling from the bag of old football programs and sepia photos he’d inherited and never found anything useful to do with.

Of course it wasn’t giving off heat; it was pot, and cotton, and… Alex shook his head clear, he couldn’t think about what else it was. In a way it might have been better if he hadn’t acted so quickly, throwing his hoodie under the falling container in panicked hope of cushioning the fall. There was a moment, a perfect fraction of a second, when Alex saw his top slide neatly into the impact zone and felt his heart burst with relief and accomplishment, better than any goal he’d scored, but it all evaporated when the pot cracked soundlessly into three, letting its contents spill out like sand, swelling into a pile until it was difficult to tell how they’d ever fit inside the pot in the first place.

At least if it had shattered everywhere, cracks reverberating around, shards of clay and powder racing to all ends of the room, then it would have been over. There’d have been no getting out of it then, the music would have been faced and it’d be done with. Instead Alex had been able to gather up the whole mess inside his impromptu landing mat, folding over the sleeves and rolling it into itself so it looked like he’d just scrunched up his hoodie and was cradling it for comfort like a stuffed animal.

Lisa, or her parents, would notice it was missing, obviously, it was just a matter of when. Was it something they looked at every day, or just every now and again, when they did the dusting maybe? Did they have some morbid ritual, where they lit candles and said heartfelt words? Alex had no idea what people did with these things; it was weird to put them on your mantelpiece, he was sure about that.

Alex gave up and rolled out of bed, taking himself across the landing, passed his parents room, and back to the half-lit bathroom sink, where he ran his hands under warm water again, wringing them under the stream like Lady Macbeth for the dozenth time that evening, desperate to make sure any residual fleks of Lisa’s grandma were washed away, hoping maybe then he could sleep.