‘Another Skin’

I must be getting forgetful. Before, I’d never leave the curtains open. But the sudden smell of smoke, seared flesh, reminded me too late that I’d done so.

In all honesty, I wasn’t me who’d always remembered to close them. She had done it for me as I slept. So when I woke, pouring myself a first cup of steaming, black coffee, I was basked in a glorious, cool darkness.

But she wasn’t here anymore to remember these things for me. Not I had to learn to remember. But I’ll forget by tomorrow. And the next day. Probably every day until one morning I wake up to more than my hand smouldering.

Can’t even find the cups. There was definitely a clean one around the house, but I’ve lost it now. Today I’ll have to go without coffee. I’ll get used to it.

With four hours until sunset I began to dress. You can never be ready too early. Punctuality is, after all, a virtue. And I was running very short of any others.

After thirty or forty minutes of matching shirt to tie, I found I had no jackets. Settling for jeans and a t-shrit nearby on the floor, I sat on the edge of the bed and waited for the sun to go away.

Easing my shoes off as I felt them begin to cramp my toes, I tucked my feet under the bed. There’s something comforting about sitting with your legs under you, like sitting on the floor at school with a glass of milk, listening to a story about nothing in particular.

Pressing them further, my feet felt the edge of something pressing into the sole.

Intrigued, I stood from the bed and brought myself to my knees, peering underneath. Where my feet had been exploring was a small box, neat and square, resting.

Inside were a simple pair of gloves. Black leather, with no label. I’d never liked designer objects. As I put them on I saw a small note at the bottom of the box.

It read: “Don’t be afraid.”

Replacing the note in the box, I put the gloves on, pressed my naked feet back into my shoes and head to the front door. It was getting dark.