Her Landscape - short fiction by Amanda Kennedy
Okay, I’m in bed.
It’s dark. It’s night.
She curls her legs up instinctively and rolls to her right side.
Owww – that hurts. What the hell?
Her right hand finds her neck and firmly rubs the muscle as she turns her head first to the right and then to the left. Running her hands up through her hair she finds a large bruise on the crown of her head. Cupping this egg, she realises that she has no idea how it got there.
Quickly she shoots a glance to her bedside table and is relieved to see her phone there plugged in.
That’s right, my phone battery died during the afternoon.
She checks the time. It’s 11.30. She can see a couple of missed calls and messages. She’ll check them later when she feels up to it.
Draining the last of the water in her glass, she feels the first bit of relief since she woke.
This is my bed. This is my room.
With the help of the street lights shining in through the open curtains she can see her shoes, her coat and her scarf on the floor next to her handbag. The clothes she had been wearing were draped across the chair as they were every evening. Swinging her feet onto the floor with some effort, she levers her body into a standing position. Her full bladder starts to cause her discomfort.
At first she can’t stand to turn on the bathroom light so in the dark she slumps onto the toilet seat and lets her head hang into her hands.
Okay, right. What do I know? I went out in the afternoon. I met up with Rachel. We had a few wines. I had pink. She had white. Then I hopped on the train to come home around peak hour. That’s right the train was crowded – standing room only.
Flicking the fluorescent light on, she pays witness to what she sees reflected in the large wall mirror. Her eye make is smudged giving her panda eyes and her hair is certainly in need of at least a brush if not a wash. She turns to view her back in the mirror to take stock of her entire body, checking for any new marks or bruises.
Okay, that’s good. Nothing scary.
Opening the cabinet door, she fumbles for painkillers as she starts to fully accept the pounding present inside her head. The bright yellow cardboard box yields up its last two tablets from the foil sleeve. More water guzzled down. One. Two full glasses plus a refill for the bedside table.
She climbs back into the inviting warmth of her bed.
How much did I really drink that much? Two wines as we sat in the sun overlooking the river. No, three wines. We had that other one after we moved inside away from the rain. Oh, yeah and the pork belly sliders. She then left to go that conference and I walked across the river to catch the train home like the sensible woman I was going to be. Oh yeah, I did stop at the new bar on the corner after I got off the train.
Of course, she was there too early and there was only one other person in the bar. An old guy in a dark blue leather jacket was propped up at one end of the bar, nursing his pint. Bowls of peanuts sat on the tables ready for the shelling. A thin white ponytail hanging down the middle of his back. She managed to cajole him to play a game of darts with her, not that she was any good but she liked the idea of being a darts fiend. He wanted to play billiards but she knew that would take too long and she was on her way home - just stopping in for a quick one to check this warehouse bar she had walked past often but never inside.
It was only happy hour for another 20 minutes so she finished up her pot of lacklustre tasting beer and offered to buy her new friend Nick another one. An hour later, the bar had filled up and she rugged up with her coat, scarf and gloves to brave the icy wind and drizzle outside.
It was dark and cold and I remember it had been raining. Was it actually raining when I walked home? I’m not sure. I don’t think so.
Reluctantly getting out of her nest again she checks through her clothes for clues. On her trousers she finds green marks at her knees.
Her jacket has dust marks all over it. Her pale leather shoes are mostly clean though. Her handbag sits on the chair untouched and unmarked. She opens it up in a moment of panic but finds her purse, cash and credit cards intact.
Jumper, singlet, bra - check. Socks? Over there.
Picking up her scarf, a lone earring and a handful of empty peanut shells fall out onto the carpet. She surrenders, having accounted for her things, climbs back into bed and switches off the light wishing for the sweet nothingness of sleep.
Okay. I left the bar alone. I was tipsy sure but I wasn’t pissed. Yeah, I was definitely alone. It was dark. Not much street lighting so I crossed the road to make sure that I walked under the lights. I was being safe. So up to the end of the road, across the grass – was that where I fell? But my trousers would be wet and my shoes would be muddy. Maybe I tripped over one of those rocks by the start of the ramp?
She again rubs her legs and arms, this time finding a tender spot by her wrist. Holding the bruised top of her head, she fantasises about the oblivion state of sleep. No pain, no blank spots, no questioning monkey mind.
Slowly, gradually the colour of the sky changes as dawn takes over and she stops fighting for slumber. A large cup of tea helps lull her pounding head while she gathers the laundry and trudges down the stairs to the machine. Pausing to spray the grass stains on her trousers, her confusion doubles.
They’re not at all wet. Maybe it wasn’t grass?
Imagining talking to Rachel later that day she ran over the evening or what she could recount of it for sure.
I know I drank but really I only had what, five drinks over four or five hours. I wasn’t that drunk that I blacked out. Was I? We had food. Thank god, I’m mostly okay. Just my head really. My phone, my purse, my credit cards are all here. I’ve gotta go walk my steps and see if I recall anything else.
Pulling on a different warm coat and long leather boots, she grabs her keys and heads out.
Wow at least I didn’t leave my keys in the door like I did that time we went to that gallery opening in Brunswick.
Locking the door behind her, she drags down her sunglasses as a barrier against unwanted conversation. Head down and off into the cold winter day she strides.
I remember how cold it was crossing the freeway last night. It’s always freezing up there on the overpass. Do I really remember or do I just want to remember?
After having crossed a few driveways, her eye catches something glinting in the small sliver of morning sun. Her earring. It’s broken. They were only a couple of dollars from the cheap Asian store but she liked them. People complimented her in them. She squats to pick it up and it is then that she notices the moss growing along the footpath. She touches it and it is cold and damp. She looks along the pavement and it’s then that she sees scuff marks in the slippery lichen covered concrete.