Timothy Raymond has degrees from the University of Wyoming and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His fiction appears both online and in print at Word Riot, Necessary Fiction, The Owen Wister Review, Writers’ Bloc, and others.
Yesterday the ceiling fell in. There was no storm. And there were no trees falling down on my house. The roof just got too heavy and everything gave way. All the shingles and wooden beams are lying on my ruined bed now.
Grace likes the new look of the bedroom. She curls up in the mess and looks up through the big hole above her. When the birds fly overhead she mews unhappily.
Grace is an indoor cat.
And I guess, in my own way, I’m one too.
When the contractor evaluated the damage this morning, he sighed a lot, like he was just too full of air. He talked about balance and leverage, but I didn’t really understand him, only because I was too busy watching his hands.
His name was Roger.
Roger’s hands were softballs.
From time to time Roger massaged his own neck with one hand, holding a clipboard in the other. All the while he alternated between studying the place where the ceiling had been and the broken pieces of it left on the bed.
Of these broken pieces, Grace was territorial.
But me, I just imagined Roger was massaging my neck instead of his, sifting carefully through all my parts like I was the shattered rooftop.
Your balance is not so good, he would say as I lay there on the bed. But don’t worry, I can make you even again.
Oh, I would say back. Roger, thank you.
Your collar is in the way, he would have to say then. Why don’t you undo your shirt a little?
To which I would blush like a princess.
Just like I know I can.
Roger looked over at me when he finished the examination. I was in the corner of the bedroom hugging myself warmly, my arms just under my little breasts. He held out the clipboard with the cost estimate, and when I approached him to sign it, I got up real close, just inches away.
After I signed, though, he turned for the door.
We’ll be back tomorrow, was all he said. Do you have a place to stay tonight? You can’t legally stay here.
Yes, I lied.
That night I took a long bath, only to get dirty again while clearing off one side of the bed. I left the other side damaged for Grace, who nestled herself deep inside the debris.
We were renegades as she and I slept under the stars. And I dreamed I was full of air, like Roger had to be. I floated up and up then, all the way to a star that popped me like a balloon.
The fall back down was slow.
I felt it.
I woke to Grace’s nose pushing at my cheekbone.