With our eyes closed we begin to dance
This short short story features in ‘Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand’, published by Canterbury University Press with the support of Creative New Zealand.
On Monday night I dream about Charlie Brown. He stands at the window watching Snoopy sleep on top of his kennel. Snoopy’s little tummy moves up and down as he snores and he’s wearing his goggles and scarf, the way he does when he’s playing the Red Baron. In the background Schroeder plays a blues tune on the piano and I have this weight on my chest that makes it hard to breathe.
On Tuesday Gerry gives me an ultimatum. The glasses or him, he says. Twenty-five pairs is twenty-four too many.
‘What’s brought this on,’ I say?
‘A bloody new pair every month for the last two years.’
‘I pay for them out of my own money.’
‘That’s not the point.’
‘What is the point?’
‘It’s crazy,’ he says. ‘Sick in the head.’
My new glasses slide down my nose. Gerry’s a blur on the other side of the kitchen table. I grope towards the bathroom and sit on the toilet seat. The back door slams. I blow my nose, go into the bedroom to find another pair of glasses – tinted, to soften the glare.
A text arrives from Gerry saying he’s at his mother’s.
I spread my glasses out on the bed, pick them up pair by pair. I can’t give them up, can’t be that naked in the world, even for Gerry.
On Wednesday I dream Schroeder plays jazz on the piano and Snoopy dances, his big beagle ears flying out, his feet doing circles on the ground. He’s still wearing his goggles and his smile stretches across his whole face. Charlie Brown reaches out and takes my glasses. He puts them in his pocket; he takes my hand. With our eyes closed, we begin to dance.
From Bonsai. Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand
A version of this work was published in Flash Frontier ( July 2014)