By Laura Wild

I’m lying in bed scrolling through my Facebook feed, listening to him potter around the apartment and getting ready to join me. We’re going to bed late, again. Every morning we feel like hell and promise ‘Tonight, I’m going to bed early’ and every night we stay up for one last drink, one last episode, one last game, and then suffer with the sunlight.

I hear him move into the bedroom, and maybe some part of me subconsciously registers that he sounds different. There’s no wandering, no randomly picking things up or stumbling to pull off socks. He doesn’t sing any of his usual dumb/adorable/ridiculous songs about my butt to the tune of ‘Barracuda’ by Heart. He stops, a man-sized lump framed by the light filtering out the en suite bathroom doorway. My back is to him, trying to fit in as much time lying on my right as possible before he gets in bed to cuddle. He will whinge if I don’t roll over so he can spoon me on his left side. My back is to him, so I don’t see the way he doesn’t move. Doesn’t twitch. Doesn’t breathe. The small signs that mark us as human. I tell him to get in bed already.

The mattress dips as he crawls in behind me. I wriggle over a little, not too much. I always end up crowded against the wall if I don’t make a stand early – even if the serial bed hog insists I’m the one taking up all the room.


An arm, too heavy and too long (do I notice that his arm is too long? Maybe.) snakes around me, pulls me in. His skin is rough, I wonder if his psoriasis is playing up again. ‘You smell weird.’ I tell him and scroll past the wedding photo my friend insists on reposting every six weeks. He presses his face into my shoulder.

‘Seriously, you smell so weird.’ I wrinkle my nose. ‘If it’s that new aftershave, it smells like garbage.’ Literal garbage, like something rotten. Metallic like spoiling meat.

I think maybe that’s when I notice.

He grins against my shoulder and I feel too many teeth.

The Winner in our 2019 Flash Fiction Competition.