|The events described in this story are fictional. The author makes no assertion about the lives or characters of the real people whose names and identities she has used in the writing of this story, and makes no money from it.|
the Cold Light
It's funny how now, when he remembers that evening, he seems to see it from the outside, as though he's a stranger looking in from the darkness. He sees himself in his Spiderman pyjamas, cloaked in warm yellow light, gazing out at the falling snow like some kind of soft-focus Disney child. It's stupid, because that's not really how it was. That's not really how things are.
Dom says, "This is good stuff, you should feel lucky. I spent tons of cash on it. Lucky, lucky, lucky... I think I might drink myself to death."
And Billy says, "Don't, they'll think I murdered you and then I'll be in prison for the rest of my life and you don't want that."
"Mm," says Dom. "No. The guilt would kill me. Oh, except I'm already dead, aren't I? I forgot."
Then it's quiet except for that light overhead that keeps buzzing faintly. Billy swishes his vodka and the ice clinks, and Dom thinks the word 'glockenspiel' for no reason.
Billy says, "That light's so annoying. I can't believe we're going to have to put up with that for two weeks."
Dom says, "Okay, we'll buy candles. Loads of candles. It'll be romantic."
"Don't start that again, for God's sake. Weirdo." Billy rolls his eyes and smirks at his reflection in the black uncurtained window.
Dom says, "Piss off. Wanker." Grins and feels his tongue slippery on his teeth.
"Oh, fuck you..." Billy rubs his glass absently against his teeth. "But love you, obviously. Right, so what shall we do tomorrow?"
"Dunno." Dom thinks he might be getting in a mood. He has some more vodka just in case.
When Dom wakes up he thinks this is probably some kind of deep metaphor for his life, but only the bottle bit. He thinks the wig and the teeth are just weird dream shit. It would still be dark if they hadn't left the light on. His eyes hurt and feel scrunchy and the light makes everything in the world look like vomit.
Actually he can't, because then Dom comes in and says, "Billy." And that's a bit of a shame, because Billy's never had a flying dream before, and he's always wanted one, and unfortunately he forgets this one within about five seconds of waking. It disappears in pale shreds and quickly becomes nothing.
Billy says, "Muh. What?"
Dom says, "I feel like shit."
Billy says, "Okay," and goes back to sleep.
Dom says, "I can't remember how I got here."
Billy says something to his pillow.
Dom says, "What?"
Billy turns over in a flurry of heat and duvet, and Dom shifts. Everything smells of old vodka.
"I said, 'I bet you say that to all the girls.'"
"Yeah, yeah..." Dom waits, follows a very fine crack on the ceiling to see where it goes. It doesn't go anywhere. His brain moves like a swamp. "I didn't throw up, did I?"
"Bloody hope not."
Billy's hand comes out from under the covers and he holds it up and they look at it. "Look at that," says Billy. "I've got the fuckin' DTs." His fingers waver very slightly. It's only the tiniest movement. You'd hardly notice it if you weren't looking closely.
Dom says, "I feel like shit. I mean really. I really feel fucking ... shit."
He turns onto his side and folds his hands beneath his head like a child playing at sleep. The world lurches a bit, and wobbles as it turns. He looks at Billy and Billy's looking at him, too. And Billy says, "I know."
He reaches over then, and touches Dom's face. He touches Dom's face very lightly with his fingertips. It's the sort of touch that doesn't quite know what it's doing there, and its uncertainty makes Dom blink quick and sudden. The skin of his eyelids feels stretched and paper-dry.
And Dom thinks, I am on holiday. And he thinks, snowflakes as big as silver coins.
He closes his eyes and waits to see what will happen next.