-through the wrong end of a kaleidoscope. One of the Davids hits me again and then I’m on the ground, a weight on my chest so heavy that it feels like my ribs are being pushed through the concrete into the hard-packed soil beneath. Fifteen grand, he’s saying, fifteen grand. Over and over until the words have no meaning.

‘I don’t have it,’I say.

Laura looking at me from the kitchen of our shitbox redbrick apartment. Oil fire eyes summarizing years of disappointment. Her long dark hair hanging about her face in lanky clots. Mascara streaks and unwashed dishes. Somewhere else a baby cries, uncared for. Laura’s crooked smile, a smothering.

‘I can get it for you,’ I say.

Floating ribs sunk into organs. Something creaks and brittle parts are being stressed. The Davids coalesce above me. One man, larger than possible, viewed at this treacherous angle. Baring lupine teeth, he snarls, I want what’s mine. Angry perspiration planing down his face, opalescent beads caught under fluorescents. I can almost hear them sizzle as they drop onto my skin. I want what’s mine, he says again.

‘I need more time,’ I whimper.

The crying stops and Laura barely rocks, like leaves anticipate the wind. Her lightly shaking head and a sighing in the silence soughing through the house. I don’t know how much longer, she falters. I move to her for comfort. My hands have only ever hurt when held in other places. Amateur dancers, they only know the rhythms of her skin. We stay like this for hours as the minutes fade away. I listen to the pleading as her words vibrate upon my cheek. I need. I need. I need.

‘Ok,’ I whisper.

Two days, he barks.

Today, she pleads.

Advertisements