On the underside of her left arm I was drawing the outline of her veins in biro as she laid across her girlfriend’s bed, her girlfriend watching but pretending not, reading out loud a story brick heavy with metaphors of shadow, a storyline heavy with Kafka, her latest kick. The penned veins were beginning to resemble a tree, the branches reaching out to where the hairs began a deeper blonde, but I didn’t want it to go that far. I shifted the weight on my elbow and started on the roots instead, following the deeper blues to her wrist, the biro half-snagging on darker scars, these myriad little jags I couldn’t ask how, why. Her girlfriend wasn’t reading anymore. Had the story finished? The mattress bobbed as the girlfriend moved from crossed legs by the headboard to flat on her belly, head on hands, elbows on bed, watching for real now. The biro took a long soft root to the start of the girl’s palm, stopped as I heard the girl swallow, me now looking up at her, her head propped on a pillow against the wall, eyes a half-closed sleepy, a half-open looking at me, her girlfriend grabbing the biro from my hand, saying the tree needed a bird, drawing a fat circle with feet, a beak, don’t move, she told the girl.
Dean Lilleyman is a novelist who also writes small stories. His first novel is called Billy and the Devil. He is now working on his second, whilst fixing a house up and talking to cats and chickens.