by Caroline Ball


They woke up at the same time on Sunday morning – both still drunk and a bit high and their legs wound up and down each other. The sun was hot through the window and she talked about the bacon she wanted for breakfast. “Where will we go for breakfast?” she asked him. “Or should we just have breakfast here?”

Minutes passed and the sun blanched the lines around his eyes and she touched them and he smiled slowly. And while he read the Keith Richards biography she started vomiting into the pot they cook their pasta in on week nights. He patted her foot and said don’t get your hair in it. So this is what it’s like, living together: all shuddering pink flesh and tangled sheets. Top floor apartment with a hang over.

Within seconds of the first retch her back was slippery with sweat and her hands started shaking and she couldn’t wipe the tears out of the way because she was gripping the pot. He pretended to be engrossed in his book and she was too wrung out to be relieved. After an hour she was sick again, but this time everything she hated about the reality she had built for herself came up too, coating her throat in bile and stinging her eyes. It wasn’t just that this was self-inflicted, but the fact that she had been out on a Saturday night. Like everyone else. She coughed more acrid yesterdaywine and water into the pasta pot. Jobs on the week days to save money for some imagined better future. We’re saving for New York. Eventually he got up and she didn’t hear him vacuuming because she was being sick again.

The nausea passing for now, she rolled onto her back slowly, licked lips and closed eyes. Neon supermarket lights flashed in her mind. She imagined the smell of the potted basil that she wanted badly but hadn’t got around to buying yet. He didn’t hear her groan and her hands just got sweatier and her brow criss-crossed. Writing a blog when she had a growing mistrust of being connected all the time – that made her retch again. She meant to write letters but she never did.

Soon there was nothing left to vomit – but she wasn’t sure what it was that was making her sick any more. He’d cut up watermelon into small watery chunks and put them in a chipped white bowl next to the bed and she ate it because it didn’t hurt coming back up. I think it’s important to buy flowers, she thought, and I can’t exactly grow them here. The sun bit her face through the glass and she looked down and it was just soft, pink watery vomit in the bottom of a saucepan.