Old Spaces (Fiction)

Ariel insisted that I come today, so I stood waiting. The silence was wearing me down. It was so quiet in the apartment that I started making up sounds to hear. The constant hum of a refrigerator, or the occasional blare of Toronto traffic. Any sign of life.

The colours seemed drained from the walls with the blinds pulled tight over the windows. I never left them that way. I walked through the room and drew up the blinds. The sun was out but couldn’t seem to penetrate the dank room. It only drew attention to a crisp curl of wallpaper gradually separating from the wall. I took the piece of parched paper between my fingers and slowly tore it away, exposing softly rotted wood beneath.

That wallpaper used to be bright yellow. I remembered putting it up, taking breaks to let pieces dry while we made love on the hard floor beneath it. My mouth guided by her sharp acclamations as I nibbled my way down her body, listening until they turned to soft moans and her fists clenched in my hair.

I let the parched strip fall the floor, leaving it to rest in a pocket of dust.

Turning from the window I scanned the room. It was an open concept living room with black cushioned sofas lining the walls. Soft throw pillows were strewn across the seats with warm graphic prints of deep burgundy and burnt orange. There were hallways on either side of the living space, one leading to the bedroom and the other leading to the kitchen. One wall contained a square cutout revealing the cooking area. She would use that counter to see the television while preparing dinner. Occasionally Ariel’s pots would overflow as she focused her look of bemusement on the flickering reception of our small television screen, sound always laced with her soft curses. I loved listening to her curse. Her east coast accent still left a soft lilt on everything she said. Ariel could say the longest stream of inappropriate sailor language and still sound delicate. I enjoyed watching her too. The way her brown curls softly framed her freckled face as she constantly tucked one strand behind her ear only to have it immediately bounce back out. Then she would move lithely around the kitchen with a sensual swing of her hips, making even chopping veggies a sexual act.

Maybe she was waiting in the bedroom. I moved away from the window overlooking the urban graffiti walls and peered down the hallway. The floorboards cried out with each step while I passed hooks and empty frames. Reaching our closed door I extended a hand to knock. Perhaps she was changing, or maybe waiting for me on the bed. A stir of excitement rose as I remembered how she loved surprising me like that. I hoped she’d be sprawled across the bed with a silk chemise lying sparingly across her pale skin, thin straps slipping from her porcelain shoulders inviting my touch.

The sound of my knock interrupted the silence as the door swung open to reveal an empty room. Stepping inside I ran my fingers along the mattress of the four-poster bed, tracing the side where she always slept. The closet was left ajar and her half was empty. My hand reached through the air as though I expected to still feel cloth slip through my fingers. I looked deeper in the closet and noticed she had left me the suitcase without the broken wheel. Sitting on the bed I chuckled quietly over the fact that she had changed her mind and decided to leave while I had changed my mind and decided to stay. Then I lamented over the fact that she had taken the broken suitcase to do so.

But I remained perched on the bed, staring at the space where her things used to be and decided to wait.

*Originally published in Untethered


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