His frown eases as I give him my mouth.
‘You do that every time,’ he says, but only after I’ve finished.
I pretend not to know what he’s on about. ‘What, swallow?’
‘Every time I mention the ghosts, you go down on me.’
‘Well, stop mentioning them and I won’t bother.’
‘I don’t want that! I want…’ He sulks.
‘Tell me what you do want,’ I say.
‘I want you to get rid of the ghosts.’
My heart sinks. ‘They’re not going anywhere.’
The ghosts in my head remind me of things. If you don’t have memories, what
have you got? When I forget, they nudge me and retell stories. He doesn’t like me
bringing up the memories, says they disturb him, reckons the memories are wrong
and my ghosts make them up.
‘The ghosts are from your past. I’m your present.’ He pulls his face.
‘They can share the present with you,’ I say.
‘I want you to stop talking to them.’
‘Not happening. Tell me what you want, apart from the ghosts.’
He starts listing things.
‘Anyone can do washing up,’ I say. ‘And housework.’
‘Not you, obviously. I mean, look at the state of those bedclothes.’
After what we just did, what I did, all he sees are untidy sheets?
‘Just give it a try,’ he says.
And I do. He’s right, I’m not very good at housework, at first the skirting
boards show only marginally less dust than before, but then I learn how not burn
to toast and start putting a meal on the table every night, made from scratch. I get
better at it all and soon build up a repertoire, my mouth kept busy talking cleaning
tips and reciting recipes. The ghosts in my head go quiet and I miss them less, I start
to think maybe they do belong in the past after all. Old memories aren’t much use
now, not if they don’t tell me how to starch a collar or bake artisan bread.
‘Just call me Mary Berry,’ I laugh, one night.
‘How about I call you Nigella?’ He winks.
The next night he tells me how boring I am nowadays.
‘I want the ghosts to come back,’ he says suddenly, throwing himself onto my
clean sheets, turning them into a crumpled chaos.
I ironed those sheets today, made each smooth and nice and here he is
rolling around in them.
‘Well they aren’t coming back, ever,’ I say.
‘You’re no fun anymore.’ He sits on the side of the bed like he used to after he
complained, thighs slightly apart, expectant.
‘Who says I used to have fun?’ I push him out of the bedroom, slam the door
shut, get on my knees and start to mend the mess he made, flicking the swirls and
whorls flat with my fingers.
Cath Bore is a Liverpool based writer and a wonderful woman. If you would like to see more of her fantastic work or have a nose at what she’s up to you can visit her at http://www.cathbore.com/