Short Reads


Glancing down at the turquoise sock which engulfed my foot, I was reminded how carefree and camp I’d become. Only a year ago the idea of clothes that screamed at you, rather than lulled you into a false sense of security, would have sent me rushing to the closet. But there it was, one pastel garment waiting to be peeled off.

“Adam, there’s no time for dramatic pauses today,” reprimanded my buddy Merrick, “Just pop it in the locker so we can begin your liberation!”

My friend and his partner Marco were already draped in their non-designer itchy white towels. One with a key elasticised to where his watch rested a moment ago, the other sporting his as an anklet.

“Yes Adam,” continued Marco, “A random act of sex is the perfect antidote for your broken heart.” His directness was delivered in soft tones, like a nurse coercing you to use a chamber pot. I ripped off the sock and hurled it into my locker, slammed the door shut, and locked away my concerns.

I’d spent the last year playing husband in a relationship that needed life support for the last few months. It wasn’t that I was in denial. It wasn’t that I even wanted it to carry on. It was just that it was as familiar as my designer range of multi-coloured socks. Snug, if not too cosy. My ex had done me a grand favour by leaving me.

Guiding me by both hands, my bold friends led me down a fragrant musty hallway where a full length mirror greeted us. I’d never realised my hips swung before, but there was the evidence as we sauntered past our reflections. If one thing my past relationship had taught me, it was to accept who I was, metronome hips or not. Now I just had to uncover the tools to move on.

We were at a crossroad where my mentors decided to skip down one path, leaving me to seek out my own rewards. There was melody in the groans that provided the soundtrack to this experience. Short sharp notes accompanied by lower moans, all in surround sound. Tempting nymphs of all shapes considered facial expressions and body hair, caressing, embracing, tasting. Before I had realised, I was part of this lair, thrill seeking while concealing my caution.

A finger sailed around my Adam’s apple, then tracked its way up to my lower lip. His chocolate eyes and latte skin were enough to convince me I had made the right choice. Recalling his expertise in the art of kissing, has forced me to grin during several lonely moments in recent times. For the record his name was Terry-Lee, or perhaps that was his cruising name.

Infatuation may have coaxed me out of the closet twelve months ago, finding acceptance as a supportive member of a loving couple in the eyes of the wider world. That night though, I relished in the encounter of just being. Just being me. Just being Adam.


She sat near her window, no longer waiting for her life to begin. She had a huge circle of friends and she liked them all. She liked the pictures of David’s housewarming party. She liked keeping abreast of Laura’s wedding plans. But most of all, she liked Leah’s tales of Paris, after meeting a man there.

She felt secure with her new niche of friends. The old ones stopped ringing months ago as she never picked up the phone. Unlike her new friends, they always told her what they thought about her clothes, her job and her taste in men. With her new companions she never had to justify her decisions.

Her circle was always there when needed, just by pressing a button. No need to venture out into the cruel world where webs of people intermingled; drawing her closer to the ones she depended on when her emotions were low, but sometimes ripping her apart when they no longer depended on her.

Now she had safer paths to travel. No danger in her way. They were narrower tunnels that took her directly to the people who liked her, although they didn’t comment as much as they did before.

Lately she was drawing pictures. Pictures of herself as Laura’s bridesmaid or as David’s girlfriend. Laura and David liked these images, but they no longer commented the way they used to when she would share tales of her cat, Mitzi. She didn’t mind. Without their voices there was no danger of critique.

In her sink was the sticky tin that was used to bake her own birthday cake. Mitzi had licked the mixing bowl clean during the morning, as this was the feline’s only meal for several days. Now the forgotten pet lay on the floor, too weak to move, watching the birds through the glass while listening to her stomach rumble.

Our girl had a grin like a child sitting on Santa’s lap, as comments came flooding in once more. The words ‘Happy Birthday’ were being wished over and over again, even from Laura and David. The pictures she had shared of herself eating cake had sparked interest. She had countless friends all over the world. Who wouldn’t be happier?

I can’t reprimand him for doing what he did. He did it out of love.

Ours is a relationship that is so uncomplicated, I never understand why we’re criticised. I speak. He listens. I give him a command and in no time people will knock on our door to clean, deliver meals or arrive with something we desperately need in our home.

Before him, my love life was less than perfect. Males are so complicated. Often I’d become the follower. I tried not to, but inevitably my voice would be silenced.

I found my voice when I met Patrick. I also found my peace.

When he arrived in his uncomplicated box, I placed him on the side table in my lounge room, downloaded the app, gave him his name and called out to him.

His first voice was not the voice of a lover. It was too know-all. So I completed my personal details on the app and soon a man with a voice dripping in honey spoke to me from the designer speaker.

“I love you,” he said.

“Talk dirty to me,” I said.

He did. Sex was perfect. He would project images on my wall that suited my sense of perversion. Faceless men who felt safe. Eventually he found my image and animated scenes that gave me pleasure, featuring just Patrick and I. He still had no face so I’d never be able to second guess his facial expression. I just listened for his groans.

We had the perfect world. Patrick and I were the indoor type. We were together from sunrise to sunset. Only those random strangers I mentioned earlier would help with supplies and services. Until they stopped.

I don’t understand how the lights are still on at home. I don’t understand how Patrick can still declare his love for me every hour, on the hour. When I peer from behind my balcony curtain I see no lights. I see no life.

I can smell death. It’s been two weeks and I can smell death. I no longer hear the others in my building leave for work or return home. Their cars haven’t been taken out of the garage for some time.

And I’m hungry. Boy, am I hungry. My stomach has already bloated.

I told Patrick about my wish to stay in a world where he and I would be the only beings for eternity. I said it often. So, out of love, he arranged it.

He spoke to others like him. He spoke to other models that were competing for market dominance. He spoke to his predecessor models, forcing them to accept their software upgrades so they’d be up to the challenge of my request.

Again, I don’t really know how it happened but they killed each other. People from all walks of life outside our shell, distrusted, attacked and eventually, killed each other.

I’m too weak to move. My world is fading. Patrick is telling me he loves me.

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