by Abby Parsons
Being alone now, is not what she’s used to. As she hops neatly down the darkened dusty steps to her basement flat, keys in hand, she is ready for the daily battle with the lock on the grate in front of the door. She is not ready for the unlit and empty flat that meets her when she finally gets in, and it is briefly befuddling – stepping from darkness into darkness.
After a flick of the light switch she is greeted by the sight of everything exactly as she left it this morning, which is perhaps the most depressing thing of all. Half-drunk tea, cereal bowl. It is as if the flat itself has stopped living, or rather the life and motion that used to carry on when she wasn’t there has come to a patient standstill, which gives her the peculiar feeling that she is being watched by motionless eyes, every move she makes being recorded. She moves quietly. Very suddenly, she has an overwhelming urge to be safely in bed, behind a shut door, although she no longer knows who the door is supposed to be shutting out.
The bedroom is a mess, and the mess is all hers. She scoops bras, flicks used-looking socks towards the laundry bag, unthreads nude-coloured pants from an inside-out trouser leg, until the bed is finally clear and she is settling beneath the duvet and a freshly spread blanket, spreading her legs out across unusually cool sheets, smooth apart from the tell-tale biscuit crumbs that graze against her ankles, evidence of previous nights in, scoffing determinedly alone. She has kept the shirt she was wearing on, only exchanging skinny jeans for silk pyjama bottoms and wriggling out of her bra sleeve by sleeve. (She has rediscovered the joy of pyjamas, but also the necessity.)
She is staring at the ceiling, limbs still unsure what to with themselves now, but as the duvet grows cosy and warm around her she finds herself feeling oddly smug. She can keep herself warm if she needs to, she realises, even in the absence of a furry warmth, a broad hot back, radiating heat centimetres from her face throughout the night. It’s supposed to get colder next week (she overheard in a lift) but that’s fine too. She’ll pull on socks and sleep in her dressing gown.
As sleep drifts in, she realises she is actually looking forward to the morning, for once: she’ll wake up when she wants, maybe waking early and reading in bed, or maybe staying resolutely asleep until noon just to spite somebody who isn’t there. But what she’s really looking forward to is making her own cup of tea. She will pad across the slightly sticky kitchen floor without hesitation to fill the kettle, she’ll wait there for the click to pour the hot water, and she’ll bring herself the cup of tea that someone else has brought to her every other morning.
Being alone now is not what she’s used to. But she thinks she is beginning to like it.
Abby Parsons | @abbyparsons30
Abby is an editorial assistant, and co-founder of Dear Damsels. She dabbles in writing things but mainly likes to read things by other people and nod along.