I slept on the floor in your room. Sleeping on the couch in the living room would have implied to your raucous roommates a flaw in your manhood. Coming out of your room together in the morning, though fully clothed, was testament to your achievement, though no one asked for details. At least, not while I was there. I hadn’t known that because you were so stoned on that black opium that I may have been quite safe in your bed.


            When I awoke there was a large spider near my head and I sat up suddenly, forced myself to think of anything—anything other than where that spider might have been during the night. I could see the dusty, crusty bits of unvacuumed life along the edges of the carpet and wondered about my own state-of-mind the night before.


            “Will he hit you?” you politely asked about the man I knew I was now leaving. The morning light as we drove through town seemed a crumpled wax paper grey.

            “No,” I said, “but there could easily be another woman there.”

            “Oh,” you said, “Will he hit me?”

That was a line of thought I hadn’t considered. “No,” I said, after some thought, “He’s loose with his penis, not with his fists.”


            But you stayed in the car getting stoned again while I went up for my suitcases, plants, two boxes of books, a crate of miscellaneous dishes, and my kettle.


“Do you have to take the kettle?”


            He came over for a hug & a kiss good-bye as though he had the right for a redeemable coupon. I watched him walk across the room with that quietly arrogant expectation. Fierce anger blocks reason and rational action. But cold anger turned me at precisely the right moment to leave him with his arms out, holding nothing.


            In the car you had your eyes shut, music loud, doors locked against the ever-possibly-present-police, and I had to bang repeatedly on the window by your head before you responded. You didn’t unlock the car door but rolled down the window and unleashed enough scented evidence to condemn you for a square block.

“Okay to come out?  you whisper, “does your apartment look over this way?”

            “He only wanted the kettle, that’s all.”

            This doesn’t really sink in, but you get out to unlock the trunk. I suddenly wonder what we’ll find in there but it’s only beer bottles.

            “From the last fishing trip,” you explain.

            “Fishing trip?” I am startled. “You fish?”

            “No, we just go out to the lake and get blitzed all weekend and just tell everyone we didn’t catch any. It’s true. Nobody asks if we fish. “Except you.”

            Eventually everything fits into the trunk, or the back seat except a three-branch philodendron in a mouldy wooden pot, which I strategically place in with the sprawled evergreens that surrounded the apartment building. With a complicated set of knots and ropes and a strong shove, we manage to connect the broken back door handle to the collapsing roof rack.


            I should have felt adventurous as we drove across the Lions Gate Bridge, should have felt relief for what I’d finally left behind, for moving forward. Perhaps.


Karen Bissenden


KL Bissenden writes a newspaper column, and has been published in anthologies of non-fiction, fiction and poetry. She won Joyce Dunn prize for non-fiction, and the annual M. Manson award for combining poetry and multi-media, after which she attended the University of Victoria, for creative writing.

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