Photo by Alexander C. Kafka (copied from Flickr)

How strange to think of life in your bedroom, staring at the wall, or at the kitchen window, waiting for the kettle to boil; to remember dark days after work, pinned between familiar, leering houses, listening to your shoes cluck against the pavement; to feel, like a child tugging at your trousers, the pull of washed-out streets on old postcards, or see an object from another place and not know what it is made from or what it is used for and get a burning in your temple; and to think, because you never stop thinking – in unmoored sensation, in mad scenes of excess and relaxation and tangerine sunlight – to think one day a stranger would grip you by the wrist in a bar in St Petersburg, the most romantic city in the world, and make it clear with serious, marble eyes they sat in yellow rooms on rainy days and dreamed about your life.

I can’t sleep: in my head I drive across America, wearing Francoise Hardy sunglasses, adjusting the hem of my sleeveless dress in over-air-conditioned petrol stations, buying bad coffee in tall cardboard cups and moreish doughnuts I unstick one by one from the dashboard, stopping in crossroad towns and causing a sensation, scandalising the chubby mothers driving their children to Little League; I lean on bars and lie about my heritage, my name, everything, pretend I play the sax, until I am drinking homebrew on monstrous farm machinery late into the evening and watching fireflies spasm like schools of fish across the humming fields, glancing from face to face, deciding which of the factory men, the fat-strong sweaty men that live in these towns, deserves me, the most glamorous woman they have ever seen.

I sit at home, at the dinner table, in the other room, laughing with my husband, doing funny voices, talking about the news; I offer myself nightly, taking him with my hand and putting him inside of me, trapping him there, talking constantly of the children we will have and the names we will give them, showing pictures of houses in the areas of town with the best schools and most pleasant parks; I suspect him of taking hot baths in order to make himself infertile, and worry he may leave out of an unbidden longing of his own.

by Dorothy Cornish.

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