44 Blue

When they wake on that ordinary Tuesday morning, Rhinestone Cowboy and Tiny Dancer stay lying in bed just exactly where they are, listening to the eruptions of their snooze-button alarm clocks, the creaking of the pipes, the clicking of the death watch beetles in the beams above and the early bird traffic roaring up the road for worms outside.  Tiny shifts so that she can rest her head on Rhinestone’s stomach and then the two of them lay still once more as if waiting for the day to swallow them whole.

Tiny is first to realise that she cannot postpone the day indefinitely and she wills herself to push-pull-heave herself into a standing position, utilising all four of her limbs.  She showers and then returns to the bedroom.  Rhinestone is still hiding under the covers, his body a vague shape somewhere under there, pressing further and further into the safe haven of the bed and slowly becoming one with it.

When Tiny pulls back the covers she finds that Rhinestone has in fact completely disappeared.  Melted away perhaps.  Surrendered.

In the window of the old, cold cafe Tiny Dancer eats breakfast on her own and wonders whether she should tell someone about Rhinestone Cowboy or not.  Perhaps it will all have worked itself out by the time she gets home from work.  In between snatches of food she bites her lip, as if to punctuate her meal with her worries.

At work she sets up mental checkpoints to make sure that everything she does makes sense and then she decides that everything is really about something else anyway so what does it matter?  She sits at her desk and assigns colours to numbers – 44 is blue, she decides.  63 is green.  Ten is red.  On the way home she starts reversing the process.  The grey of the kerb is a 17.  The colour of the sky is 1.

When Tiny Dancer gets home late on Tuesday afternoon and finds Rhinestone Cowboy up and about, she feels like she has been pulled back up over the edge of a cliff.  He offers, perhaps a little sheepishly, to make her a cup of tea and she says yes, thinking of the colour she likes her tea to be, and the number 12.  As he waits for the water to boil Rhinestone looks embarrassed, as if he wishes the kettle would just swallow him whole.

Tiny checks him over from all angles, making sure that he is still the same shape as he was before, and finds only a few differences, a few changes to her Cowboy.  On the whole he has put himself back together again.  Re-formed himself like some kind of plasticine character.  She laughs at the thought.  Then holds him close and thinks about different colours of plasticine – 3, 11, 52, 900…


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