by Beth Crossley
It was the middle of August. Laura lay on top of the crisp white sheets, solemnly staring at the newly plastered ceiling; they’d had it done a few weeks ago. She had opened every window in the room but left the blinds pulled down. Shards of sunlight crept through the gaps in the plastic and illuminated the room in a warm haze. She could hear the sound of cars starting outside, the slow rumble of the neighbours’ lawn mowers and the constant spraying of water onto shrivelled, burnt grass. It was too hot. Laura was irritable; she began to kick her legs and dig her elbows into the soft downy sheets like a fractious child would, but this only made her hotter and more ill tempered. Her face was covered with a glossy sheen, and a freckling of sweat droplets sat on her upper lip. She slipped her dress over her head, the thin cotton brushing her ears, before slumping back onto the bed. She gently placed her hand onto her rounded stomach and reached for the glass of water on the bed side table. She let the tips of her fingers rest in the cool liquid and flicked a few globules at the cat that slept next to her. He slinked away in disapproval.
Ben would be back from work soon.
Laura made her way downstairs; she caught sight of her body in the large mirror in the hallway. Even in this short time her arms seemed plumper and her face more round, her legs puffy and her breasts more protruding. She squeezed at her milky flesh and left a pink mark, a drop of blood in a drift of snow.
In the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of wine.
‘Why are you naked?’ was the first thing Ben asked on entering the stuffy house.
‘I’m too hot,’ Laura answered.
‘Everyone’s too hot, Laura. You just can’t walk around stark naked though.’
‘Why not?’ she asked petulantly.
‘What if someone had come to the door? What would they think?’
‘They’d think I was too hot,’ she replied. ‘How come you’re so late home anyway?’
‘I had a meeting, last minute thing.’ Laura knew he was lying, she knew he’d been with someone, she could smell it. His skin still carried a post coital gleam and he reeked of booze and cigarettes.
Ben sighed and shook his head; he made his way through to the office, Laura sat and listened to his bare feet padding along the wooden floor. She drained the contents of her glass and went to retrieve the bottle from the fridge. She pushed her forehead against the cool door and knew she’d done the right thing. She pressed her hand against her stomach and stroked the now empty shell.
Beth Crossley is 20 years old and studying English Literature at Newcastle Uni.