They dropped away from each other like two sacks of potatoes thrown off the back of a truck; heavy, inelegant, rough, lumpy and without the slightest hint of emotion. Panting heavily, sweat dripping from their exhausted bodies, they instinctively turned away from each other, back to back, each facing their side of the room.
She stared through glazed half-closed eyes at the swirly patterns on the wall-paper, torn with age and stained beyond recognition. Tracing a mental path through them, she smiled inwardly, a bitter smile that manifested itself as a vicious scowl that the semi darkness would never be able to hide completely. She had bought the wallpaper when they had first moved in together, and like most men, he had protested heavily at the very floral patterns.
“Can’t we have something with a little more… symmetry?”, he asked.
“Something lighter and less daring, not some psychedelic hellish nightmare spawned from an unimaginative artist sitting at her computer drawing patterns from templates and calling them art.”
She had smiled then, knowing his love for melodrama, and despite his earnest protests – and occasional threats to rip them off the wall or slit his wrists and write his protests in blood while dying a slow death in front of her – the wallpaper had stayed… and it was everywhere. An omnipresent reminder that his independence was no longer relevant.
The sticky hot sweat of their backs touching jarred her back to the present. Her breath was slowly becoming normal now, but his was still shaky, unsteady, coming out in small spasms.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
The thoughts echoed in his head like a shotgun fired off in a cave.
The void stretched out in front of him, he could feel it, he could see it in his mind’s eye. A chasm that gaped mockingly beyond his closed eyelids, daring him to slow down his breath and calm down long enough to open his eyes and stare at the abyss. He knew, of course that there was nothing but the closet door, partly open, and beyond that, a rack full of clothes teeming with mosquitoes that were patiently waiting for them to fall asleep so that their feast of blood could continue.
He laughed quietly. One feast of passion ends, another feast of survival begins. It was hard to tell where the chain of pleasure ended.
But was it really pleasure anymore? Or was it consummation? Or… a ritual. Oh god… had it gotten that bad?
A small breeze from the broken window pane blew into the room, gently creaking the closet door and sending a shiver down his spine.
“So…?” Her voiced drifted through the darkness, a barely audible whisper that sliced viciously through the darkness with a weight and sense of purpose beyond comprehension.
Silence from his side. A formless, breathing lump in the darkness.
The seconds passed. The clock hanging on the wall, a perfectly symmetric square, black and white affair with no pretentiousness as to its purpose or destiny in life, ticked away, oblivious to the two lives it so unerringly urged onward.
“I heard you.” He growled.
Tick. Tock. Time marched on, in black and white. There was no hurry, it said, but, it reminded, there was also no turning back.
The mosquitoes, restless with blood thirst and unhappy that they were being cheated of their time, which was considerably shorter, started venturing noisily out of the closet, one at a time, sensing the air for the heat and movement that guided their blood lust towards the prey.
A loud crack ripped the darkness apart and echoed through the empty room, and between palm and bicep, a mosquito lay dead.
Silence reigned once again, thick, heavy, except for the ticking clock. Tick. Tock. Tick.
He laughed out loud this time, startling her. She lifted her head, turning it slightly upwards, in that most useless of gestures, trying to look behind her and staring obliquely at the ceiling instead. She waited for a response from him, a further expose to the discourse that he had begun so inelegantly with that stupid laugh of his, and hearing, seeing and feeling nothing commital from his side, she turned back, lay her head down, sighed and continued absent-mindedly tracing a familiar path through the dense swirls of a particularly filthy corner of wallpaper.
“That clock has to go.” Her voice was shrill, piercing the lazy afternoon Sunday air like a whistle at a military parade.
She was standing on the bed, mad at God knows what, and he was lying down on the bed, propped up on one elbow, looking up at her, trying to be as serious as he could be when faced with the view of her absolutely gorgeous ass, framed and caressed snugly in the shortest cut-off jean shorts mortal man had ever created.
“I’m talking to you, dammit!”
He tore his eyes off her ass and looked up at her. It was as cliche as they come, but all he could think was how hot she looked when she was angry. She was absolutely gorgeous, and every single day, he was thankful, in his own way, that she was his. Well… except for days like this.
“Why? It’s a perfectly good clock. I love it, and it does its job. Extremely well, I must add.”
“Yes, but it’s so fucking square! And black! And loud! Oh fuck it’s loud!”
He laughed. She really hated that clock.
“I’m telling you J, that clock is going to drive me fucking insane! Whatever happened to colour? Or or… digital clocks? Yes… digital clocks. They make no sound, they look pretty and they come in all shapes and sizes. And they have curves! This… this thing is like a box someone stuck on a wall and threw some stupid lines on and called it a clock! It has to go.”
He crawled to the edge of the bed and swung his legs over, yawning noisily, something he knew she hated. He looked up at her with one eye and smiled, stood up and faced her. She liked standing on the bed because it always made her feel taller and she loved looking down at him. They both knew, however, that the highest she ever got was eye to eye, but it still made her deliriously happy, and he could never figure out why something so… silly would make her squeal like a child.
But this time, she was furious, and he could tell. He looked at the clock, looked back at her, back at the clock and turning back to her, said, “Babe, that clock is going nowhere.” And taking her face in his hands, he leaned forward and kissed her.
They fucked like rabbits.
He sighed. A deep, long, troubled sigh. Even in his mind, he couldn’t escape the inevitable. He turned around, reached out for her in the darkness and pulled her close. She snuggled back into him and felt his arms wrap themselves around her. She loved this feeling, where she knew she was his, stark naked, raw and pure in her acceptance of the moment. She loved the way her body fit perfectly into his and she loved how he held her so close as if to say, “I’ll never let you go.”
A small tear ran down her cheek.
“Shhhh… we’ll figure it out.”
Somewhere, a mosquito dug deep and started sucking.
Tick. Fucking. Tock.