Delicate but sure she rested
her slim leg on the rim of the bathtub,
the razor poised as she glanced out the window to the yard.
The orange tree was flinching from the wind.
It looked different, the leaves changing colour
when they shouldn’t be and the fruit
didn’t taste like it ever used to do.
Her boyfriend stood near to where
the roots met the bottom of the pine wood fence,
chatting to their neighbour James.
Their words were too soft to hear
but she guessed they were gentle
from the smiles, small and sincere.
As Sophie regarded her lover she recalled
the last time they slept together.
There was something that was not there.
She noticed David’s eyes linger
when James walked back inside.
Fertiliser, for the orange tree.
It needed a boost; she’d get some from the store.
She put the unused razor down
and headed for the door.
That night washing up, he knicked
his finger on the point of a steak knife.
Exclaiming from the pain, the shock, the blood
and the feeling of being so suddenly uncomfortable
he turned and said; “Honey can you finish?”
She raised her eyes; saw a pinprick, barely notable
and stared mystified, not yet misty-eyed
but a thought filled her head.
‘Who am I living with?’
In front of the bathroom mirror
he’d vacated not five minutes before,
she didn’t scream or cry out at what she saw.
A big huntsman hunched in the corner of the glass,
watching who knows what, maybe the fly
buzzing down to where the tiles joined
the plaster of the wall. Sophie sighed,
strode silently to the kitchen cupboard
under the sink; ignored the spray and grasping the dustpan,
took the spider and set him down easy on the porch
where he scuttled off into the dark.
Super-scared or not afraid at all,
she wasn’t sure if David would answer if she asked him.
The fertiliser failed to do its job but she
wouldn’t be downtrodden,
it wasn’t the only thing she bought from the shops.
She appraised her reflection as she slid
the silk of her new underwear
past the stubble and up to her hips.
It didn’t look right with the grease
still staining her hands. She’d had
to change the oil in the Mazda
because David said his finger was sore,
thought it might be infected.
No, it wasn’t, she told him
firmly as a doctor would if they checked it.
She did it anyway as she didn’t know
what else to do. She couldn’t scream
“Why can’t you?” It would only
raise a meek response, their
recent conversations were permeated
with more than a few of them.
It was like he didn’t want to raise his voice,
frightened of its volume, its texture
or something else.
Finally bedtime again, Sophie removed her clothes
bar the black and red lingerie
and walked into the lamp lit room.
He was bent over sitting on top of the quilt,
his phone hidden down between the bed and dresser light.
David looked up and quickly shut it off
but said; “Honey I’m so tired.”
Quiet, she stepped into the ensuite
to be sad on her own. There she found
evidence of a claim she hadn’t yet made.
In the lukewarm wash of the light bulb
she spied her razor glinting. Nothing odd
about that but what gave her pause
were the dark hairs, resting weightlessly
in the still-sharp blades, she was certain had never
been shaved from her pores.
She rushed back in,
pushed him on the quilt and tore the
fabric from his skinny frame, forced him into love.
His smooth calves slipped in the sheets,
her bristly thighs felt conscious on his skin.
Everything felt wrong and all he could think
was that he’d like to try those panties on.
In the morning she told him she had to leave.
He took her hand. ‘We need to talk.’
His gaze pleaded like an adolescent child.
She put her arms around and placed his head
in the crook of her shoulder.
Her single tear splashed on his face,
while his trickled down to wet
the engagement ring held precariously on her necklace.