Once the screaming stopped, silence flooded the room. Connor lay on the bed and looked at Sonia; through the window, a street light silhouetted her curves. He gazed into the deep dark of the back of her head. If Connor looked hard enough, he thought, maybe he could pick up on something, a mood, an emotion, anything. But Connor knew the truth; there was no telling what she was thinking. All he could make out was the rise and fall of her sides. Her breath a calm tide pacifying a Kraken of rage that dwelt just below the surface. He reached out, put a hand on her shoulder. Immediately it was bounced off. Even the most minor movement caused considerable chop.
“I’m going to sleep,” Sonia said. Connor did not respond. He knew he would have to say something, or that would stir up the sea too.
“OK,” he offered, weak, non-committal, him.
“I can’t sleep in the same bed as you”.
“OK,” he was a parrot.
“What are you doing?” she said.
“You said you can’t sleep in the same bed as me,” Connor said.
“I know what I said, so what are you doing?”
“I don’t know,”
“This is my house,” Connor protested.
“Get out,” she repeated. Connor didn’t want to start another argument.
On the other side of his bedroom door, Connor stood on the upstairs landing. Even though it was late, the inside of the house was bright. Lights on, the sound of laughter and love emanating from the living room downstairs. He could go and join his housemate and his fiance, but he would be a third wheel. Being there without Sonia would only lure their suspicions to the surface. Connor did not want to have to explain himself or make excuses for Sonia. If he could push it down. If he could not see it, then he would be fine. Surface-level calm would suffice for him. Another night spent sleeping on the bathroom floor would be fine. It would not kill him.
The bath, like many things, was too small for Connor’s lanky frame. So the floor it would be. The floor of the bathroom, if he positioned himself right, could fit him. He would have to use his imagination to disguise the grim reality. His dressing gown, a warm blanket for him to cocoon within. The damp towel on the rail, a plump pillow for his weather-weary head. Cold ceramics, a soft, smooth mattress. Curled up in a ball on the floor, he had to imagine himself comfortable. He was ready to set sail for an island called peace. It was out far on the horizon, but it was there. Yet, he always felt stuck at the shore.
As he let the current take him out to sea, he thought about what it was that he did that stirred up the storm. No matter how hard he tried to navigate, he was in unknown waters. The compass was inaccurate, and there was no point of reference on any of the maps he had seen. As soon as he gained his bearings, there would be a tectonic shift somewhere in the depths beneath him. Just like that, he was adrift once more.
Lying on the tiles, light from the hall below the door, a lighthouse. Lost at sea; no other vessels. Connor was a ghost ship. He knew that on the outside, he looked sea-worthy. On the inside, empty; whatever had not abandoned ship was dead. Connor was rudderless. Waiting to be battered by the next storm. A tempest. Parts of his bow had been ripped out and replaced. How much of the original Connor remained, it felt like none.
When storms raged, he was caught in the breaking of waves, unable to make any headway. Stuck in place. Thoughts of scuttling himself would float through his mind. He confided in Sonia about it once, only for her to tell him that it put undue pressure on her. After that, Connor resolved never to confide in her again, especially when it came to his own inner world.
The lighthouse went dark. Connor decided to risk sneaking down to the more comfortable sofa.
Floorboards creaked as he passed his roommate’s door. He heard the sound of tenderness and acceptance; those feelings were strangers on his shores. An undiscovered country. Connor descended the stairs and went into the living room.
The sofa, a welcome sight. Connor lay down and stared up at the ceiling. Part of him said that tomorrow would be different. That was a lie, new mutinies always ended identical. It would be the same, the same as the day before and the day before that. Beaten back by the tide, no breaker.
Connor felt drowsiness cloud his vision of tomorrow. He was carried off on waves of sleep. Connor sank into a slow slumber. And dreamed of drowning.
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