Monday, January 26, 2009

Quietly given gifts; fingers hardly touching

Bouncing on the bed in her boots. Sunshine falling crossways through the window, making her glow a little. Glass of milk on the bedside table chi-chi-chinging a bit with every bounce. Pencils rolling. Sheets of paper curling in the same sun mentioned above. Yellowing. Lemoning, rather. When he looked at the yellowing sheets he could smell nothing so much as lemons. Makes a change from fried onions, he shouted to her, above the radio.

"What does?" she wanted to know. Smiling. The ties of her helmet flapping up and down as she continued her bouncing. "Have you got another headache?"

I lied and told her he was fine. "I'm fine," he said. Lovely shade of lemon, though.

"Old watercolour sets," she said, reading his mind. "Rolling up the ends of the metal tubes to get the last of the paint out."

He could only agree. And then a question: Why was she bouncing on the bed?

"Me?" she said, amused, redoubling her bounces, making the odd bits of change jingle in the pockets of her suit.

You, he said.

"Looks like rain," she said, throwing a glance out the window as she went up and down, then returning her attention to the form in the chair in the corner at the end of the bed. "You're able to hold a pencil!" she cried. "Why didn't you tell me?"

It had been meant to be a surprise. Still, no harm done. Now all he had to do was stop snapping the blessed things every time he tried to get a few words down on a sheet of paper before it brittled and...lemoned.

"You know perfectly well why I'm bouncing," she said pertly. "I've gone right off this planet. I'd rather not touch it unless it's absolutely necessary. It's much better up here."

But the bed, he noted, will eventually have had enough. And it will break.

"Aha!" she rejoined. "But there are other beds. And in the longer term, I have great faith in what the Vons and the Vilhelms are doing in the wooden huts we're not supposed to know about."

She was ever an optimist. So he just watched her. Landing on the bed. Springing off again. Aloft for a count of two or three. In the sunlight, as observed. Smiling. Up and down. It all rather lulled him into a kind of gentle doze of the sort that sent his memory skittering about its landscape, forcing all sorts of odd jigsaw bits together, sometimes by force. Yes, he must have slept. Because he clearly remembered the last time her boots had landed on the mattress and sprung her off upwards again. But he had no memory of her coming back down again.

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