I have been eating pot noodles for twelve days. They were on offer for fifty pence each and I bought thirty. I also picked up some cheap bread that was at the time nearly out of date. Today I started cutting off the mould. The slices are getting smaller as I cut the edges off.
My mother came around yesterday she is worried for my health, tells me to eat more and build up my arms like my father. I frown then ask if she actually wants anything from me? She says ‘No’ and we stare at the walls around us. Why she comes around I do not know. Her hair is as grey as railway ballast. Her eyes haven’t known sunlight in years. I feel for her, but she keeps going.
When she left she gave me ten pound to buy some food. I wondered whether the local supermarket would still have pot noodles on offer then thought about buying a pizza, a delivered pizza! But my thoughts soon went away like melting snow.
My flat needs cleaning, forks have built up. Plates for my bread have towered the table. Have I the energy for such nonsense? Not really. I stretch out my legs and listen to the rain on the window. Sometimes it sounds like it wants to come inside. Such is the hammering but why come in here? There is nothing other than dead skin and fallen hair. I am falling apart in here.
I always keep the curtains closed and the flat door locked. You can never know who will come in or try and get in. This house is subsiding from the inside out. There are six bedrooms, mine is opposite a man who sits in his own smoke like a bird in a hedgerow. He never moves, at least I go out twice a day. He doesn’t do nothing.
The other four rooms I hear doors opening and mumbling but never see them. It is a strange sensation living in such quarters. At times I think we are in a condensed castle.
Last week we had a power cut and people were running around everywhere. ‘Check the fridge!’ ‘Open the windows!’ ‘Unlock the door’ ‘Have we hot water?’ What food is in the freezer?’ were amongst some of the things I could hear. It made me chuckle as I sat here with a pot noodle. Up here I have a camping stove and can boil water whenever I want. I rarely keep things downstairs, as I don’t trust the people I live with.
All my food sits up here, which means it usually tins or tubs, crackers, crisps, chocolate, biscuits, boxes of stuff. All man made but what can I do? One day I may end up ill because of it as my father has always pointed out. ‘You cannot beat a bit of veg and soil!’ he would say when I went home. He’s always good for a statement. I use to say why don’t you get into advertising? You come out with some slogans! He would grin then say something else. His whole life is a bullet point.
Thankfully my father doesn’t come here often. Mother will come whenever but her sour expression dries me out. Living with him all these years has drained her of any buoyancy in her life. She will sink the moment she hits the sea. I noticed it years ago when her skin started to wrinkle like a tomato that had sat too long in a fridge. He sipped at her everyday, until the final dregs were gulped and now she walks under the sun without any light.
I am woken from my thoughts by a knock on the door. The sofa has moulded my body and looks sad that I have to get up. The knock is unusual, not like my mother’s.
‘Hello’ I say as I unlock and open.
‘It’s me!’ came a familiar but distant voice
‘Alright dad!’ I say and in he comes, thankfully my sister has come too.
‘Ah sis! Good to see ya!’ I say as she raises her eyebrows
Father goes straight to the windows. He opens the curtains and we all see the dust dancing in the air.
‘Good God! It is like opening a treasure chest! Look at this!’ he says and points at the disturbed world that I have been building.
‘Well I have no choice! My life is work, work, work, then this flat’ I reply and sit back down on the sofa.
‘Why don’t you come around the house? Eat some of mum’s great food?’ my sister asks.
I look into her eyes, already like mother’s, she is frail like an autumn leaf. Father looks out the window, and I see a reluctant smile stretch across my sister’s face.
‘I will! When the time is right. I am very busy’
‘Busy doing what? Eating pot noodles! No man can survive on powdered food and hot water! You need to get a grip son’ says my father
‘But why? I am happy!’
‘You have no woman! No job to speak of! No pets! No holidays! No future! You don’t even allow the sun into your home and nourish your skin’
‘The sun is overrated! I have a job that suits me dad. Not everyone wants to sit behind a desk’
He looks at me like the head of a hammer before the nail. I keep my eyes on him, he won’t intimidate me. Though having a pet would help me get out more the rest of his opinions are nonsense.
‘Are you coming round tomorrow night? It is Granddad’s eightieth and everyone is coming! It will be great for him to see you’ said my sister and her eyes blossomed slightly.
‘What time?’ I ask
‘Get round for sixish. He is round about seven. He hasn’t seen you forever. It will do him good. He only has weeks left you know’ says my sister and she looks at me with the most sad eyes, like a lonely bull behind a fence.
‘OK. I haven’t seen him for awhile. Entirely my fault. It’s hard seeing him become what he is’
‘Getting the food inside you will be worth the effort alone! A beetroot warms the heart! Come on girl, this flat is folding in on my brain’ my father says and he shakes his head at the back garden then turns towards the door.
‘Cheers for coming around!’ I say
My sister stands and we hug. I feel the bone under her skin like a stony path under thin snow. He talks about food but what does she eat?
‘See you tomorrow’ father says
‘Yep! See ya!’ I reply
‘Bye!’ says my sister
I close the door and lock it. I am glad to see the back of him. The sun beams through and I look at the light on the floor. It’s like a portal to another world. I often wonder about the sun, how it came to being what it is. How life started from it. It is all very strange, our thoughts are so complicated we forget everything about this place. A giant ball hanging in a thing called space. Are we at the end? On the edge? In the middle? Space must be the only thing that is infinite!
A knock on the door turns my neck. I turn to unlock, sighing as I turn the key then open the door to see nothing. I look down the stairs. No one. Then something brushes past my ankle. I look down to see a puppy.
‘Hello little fella!’ I say and pick him up. He is an Alsatian and his eyes are golden like honey. He licks my face then tugs my collar. His teeth squeeze the fabric and I smile.
‘Hello? Who has left him here?’ I ask
The door opposite me opens. The man who never goes out looks at me. ‘He is yours!’ he says
‘What? Why! How!’ I mumble
‘Take him! My brother cannot handle him. He is too much. Please take him!’ says the man
‘But I can’t. He will be too big for the flat. Plus I work!’ I say
‘You must take him!’ he says
The puppy licks my ears. He nibbles my collar again and whines from his rib cage.
‘Here! I cannot take him’ I say and pass the dog back to the man.
I shake my head and close the door hoping I don’t have another visitor tonight.
I have finished work and am getting ready for my granddad’s birthday party. He is a good age but cancer has hooked him and has been reeling him in for a long time.
At least with everyone there I won’t have to put up with father. Though I am sure he will have some comment. Especially when I eat. I will never have the appetite of what he has, though he is an office man he has earned a lot of money and been involved in the gym side of life for a very long time. I am the opposite to him. I know he hates this.
My clothes are ironed and I start putting on my clothes. A knock comes on the door so I button up then open it slowly.
‘Please take the dog! You are a good man’ says my neighbour and he offers me a puppy.
‘I cannot take it!’ I reply
‘He will be drowned!’ says the man, his eyebrows bouncing with each syllable.
‘Sicko! I will drown you!’ I say and hold the door handle with aggression.
‘I can’t handle him! You take him!’ he says and he tries to pass me the dog.
‘It’s not fair to have him in a flat’ I say
‘I will have to get rid then!’ says the man and he closes his door.
I go back inside and sigh. What the hell is he playing at? Drown him! What thoughts do these freaks have?
Then I hear his door close and he walks downstairs. Do I follow? I put on my jacket and look out the window. The moon is a keyhole to the night sky. The porch light comes on. I look down and see the man carrying a towel under his arm.
Has he the dog? I open the window ‘Hey! Where you goin?’ I ask
He dismisses me with his hand. My heart skips a beat. The downstairs bell rings, it must be my taxi. I run downstairs and open the front door.
‘Taxi sir?’ asks an Oriental man
‘Yes! Errr…..hold on!’ I say and run through the back of the house, and into the garden. My neighbour is nowhere to be seen. ‘Hey! Where are you?’ I ask the night.
I don’t even know his name. How crazy! He has gone! Surely he hasn’t gone with his threat? I run a little and wait for some noise. I cannot hear any footsteps, or see any movement. The air is paused, the stars have closed up for the night, there are hardly any lights on in houses. The world is mad but….
‘Hello!’ I hear a voice and turn to see a man near lamppost. The light is holding back his appearance and I struggle to see who it is.
‘Is that the man with the dog?’ I ask
‘Eh? No...it is the taxi driver! I have to get going, please sir are you coming?’ he asks