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Article

The Foggy Shores of Our Bedrooms: Deep in the Waiting Space

Jerry: Has that happened to you, Flo? Have you opened a door or refocused your eyes to see the change in sunlight’s sort of... scratched the familiarity from something?

Scene: A plain bedroom, still and humming in the half-light. Sticks of dead flowers crumble from a vase on the desk, beside it a half-full teacup forgotten the day before. Flo is fast asleep.

Flo throws off her blanket and sits up, gasping for air.

Jerry: Sorry to surprise you, I got lost staring at the sun on the brick wall across from your window. It’s put me in a trance of sorts, and I can’t quite tell if I have returned to the right place or not.

Jerry is sitting on the open windowsill, one leg dangling down and the other pulled to his chest. He turns his head slowly, not wanting to take his gaze away from the brick wall, to look Flo directly in the eyes.

Jerry: Has that happened to you, Flo? Have you opened a door or refocused your eyes to see the change in sunlight’s sort of... scratched the familiarity from something?

Flo: I—

She shields her eyes from the light, squints and then half-smiles.

Flo: You’re back, then. I was hoping you hadn’t sailed away for good.

Jerry doesn’t move from the windowsill. He gives a quiet chuckle.

Jerry: Oh, you know that I couldn’t leave for good. It’s something in my joints, you know. Up North it’s always freezing. No walls, and people don’t wear scarves there. Here, I can always move a little more.

He turns to look at Flo, holding her gaze for the first time in a long while.

Jerry: Besides, I felt that tug. When you don’t have enough energy to lift clothes off of the hook, so you yank down. We’re almost telepathic, I felt the frustration of that somewhere near Iceghlear. We’d just left Hulm’s Bay, the sun was directly upon us and the wind took the feeling from our noses. I’m here now because it didn’t stop. I can’t stand it unless you’re calm.

Jerry moves to the stove in the corner of the room in a singular swift action to set the kettle boiling.

Flo [softly]: I’m sorry. I’ll try harder to move gently, to breathe deep—to drain each cup of tea in slow sips. It’s just that whenever I try to walk, my toes catch in the curves of the carpet, and my hands get stuck in the contours of the furniture. It might seem silly to you, a traveller and all, but this room isn’t as quiet as you think.

Jerry takes his own deeper breath, he follows Flo’s gaze but his hand is on her shoulder.

Jerry: Yes, we can’t expect it. We stub those deeper parts of ourselves and it’s as if the pain was always there and will never leave. But it fades so quickly. My dearest, this wasn’t a carpet fold. You hit the deck and my heart burst!

The kettle is gurgling now, and Flo pours the boiled water into mugs. It’s black with a hint of milk and stirred with the tea bag left in for Jerry, and Flo pours the milk in first with one quarter water and the tea bag evicted into the bin across the room.

Jerry lowers himself slowly into Flo’s orange vinyl armchair, not disturbing the tea placed on the pinewood arm. Flo leans against the stove cupping the beverage in her hands. This is well- rehearsed.

Jerry: You can tell me, I can hold this for you.

Flo passes the mug to Jerry. In transit, its fabric breaks, its outer edges slopping from east to west. Jerry’s knuckles whiten around the handle of his own mug, like the flash of a ghost whose trail is always belated, passing through before Flo can be sure he was really there. She leans against the desk, eyes fixed to the carpet.

Flo: Sometimes I think you’re gone, but then, without fail, you manage to carve out some new hiding place. You’re always a measure away from me—I could never move any closer than I am now, and I’m scared to reach out and touch you, but I can always find you sticking somewhere in my periphery, a fly in a web. And every time you find your way back to me, in stumbles or vigils, I ask myself what your fascination is with me. But is it just me, though? Can you be in more than one place at a time?

Jerry: Flo, I can’t be anything but fascinated with you.

There’s now a mist rising around Jerry. It’s that of a morning shower, the colour of deep breathing, and the holding of a rail and the self at the centre.

Jerry: It’s not love, and it’s not the journey from friendship to partnership. It’s the inexplicability of caring for you. From that first cave at Scareace to the beach each Sunday morning, you keep tugging at those invisible strings attached to my mind. And with every tug, it’s only another fateful bash to my bruised heart.

Jerry stands abruptly. The air around him tears and boils, his figure becoming a mirage.

Jerry: It hurts sometimes, and I get glimpses of the life that I once had before my heart moved here, to yours. I don’t feel wholly here and the walls bend when I’m confused, but I cannot find a hearth warmer than when I am swept to this chair, your hands unclenching and tears draining the life for tugging, and I embrace you with all the giving of my self. Do not hurt yourself wondering why these walls shake, why the world turns and why your thoughts seem to swift right through things. I am here.

The boiling fills the space between Flo and Jerry. There is a singular snap that brings stillness. Jerry is gone, the air is clear, and the sky outside is midday blue. A light brown and orange mug of tea sits steaming on the windowsill. Flo is perched next to it, staring at the brick wall across the way.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Three 2021

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