Under the Table

 

He led in the dark, his naked back pressed against the caffeine scented carpet and biscuit crumbs. It was 3.15 am, and he was staring at the underside of the table crying. The gum stuck to his wooden ceiling were his stars, the fading Sebadoh sticker his cloud. It had been nearly a year since he’d been with the table, he could recount every absent day, the table itself could recall none. After all, it was an inanimate object, but it was his inanimate object. The winter wind blew through the broken window cooling the room.

He reached his hand out from under the table, brushing it against the top, feeling the burn marks left from a candle he once forgot to blow out after falling asleep in front of the TV. His hands moved to the wobbly knee, created by the force of two bodies pressed against the surface. He then moved to the dent, a time when he punched the corner after an argument over who can recall, finally lifting his hands to reach a piece of dried up gum. He placed it in his mouth, chewed, and realised that it was a flavour he was unfamiliar with.

He spat the strawberry flavoured gum into the carpet, rubbing it in with the crumbs for good measure. He picked more from under the table; vanilla, orange, cherry, each flavour more alien than the last. What happened to plain old mint, or even spearmint? These weren’t his flavours, they weren’t her flavours. He had to lick the wooden splintered table leg to remove the taste, to evoke memories once clear, to reclaim the table as his, if only for a moment. And in that moment he licked each leg, gripped each leg, rubbed each leg, chewed each leg. He came.

Panting, lying in his own liquids, he watched the table do none of these things. The table was unfeeling, the table was unmoving. His hands were still gripping the table legs, legs which began to crack, then snap as he forcibly twisted them apart. Each leg got theirs, and when the legs were no longer legs, he threw his body onto the table top, and the centre gave way, the jagged separation sinking into his stomach. With the table inside his flesh he screamed, he rolled, he bled, and the room filled with light.

In her dream she saw a man made of wood dancing whilst on fire. The man was someone she knew, but when she reached out to touch his face, it was already scorched. There was no warmth from the fire, and the dancing was terrible. She decided to simply sit and watch the man burn into nothing, just an old flame. Once his legs were no more, the man made of wood started to scream. She awoke.

She watched him as he bled, trying to remember the past. He writhed as she sat, trying to do the same. The table simply sighed, and continued to break.

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