My leg twitches to its alternating self between a gentle vibration and a violent momentum. I try to hold it still and, for long moments, I succeed, until the cold of the broken boiler forces my body to rebel against me once more. I am sat on a shrink-wrapped plastic cube of hay shavings, and it sets me lower than everyone else. It’s like group therapy; we’re all sat around in a half-circle, whilst the employed watch us carefully. They reek of guilt; it comes off them like cartoon stink lines, as visible their multi-hued green fleece jackets.

One of them can’t stop talking about fun and I can feel my hands curling in on themselves, curling into fists, and I want to want to hit her, but I don’t. She’s a weird looking women – her legs are slim and taper down into dainty, pristine little ankles, like those of a ballerina, but her body inflates around her hips and upwards, protruding out into obvious folds of fat. She shouldn’t be able to stand, unless her weight was so perfectly distributed around her that no one side could ever be unbalanced. I want to write a thesis on her, somethin’ to get me into Edinburgh Uni or Oxford or Skelmersdale College and disguise that thesis as a sonnet.

‘We’re all about fun here,’ she says again, clapping her hands in front of her breasts and looking over at her fellow colleagues,’ in’t that right guys?’ The three of them cheer weakly, without even the effort involved to describe them as half-hearted. Quarter-hearted, maybe. She repeated the noise in her dull, guttural accent, and we laugh. The laugh of the unemployed.

Her words are so much noise, and I’m watching one of the girls sat across from me. Christ, she couldn’t have been more than ten feet away and no more than a year separated us in age, but she might as well have been on the moon for all the chance I had. She was wearing a skirt, and it fell against the pale flesh of her thighs. I like legs; I’m a leg man, if I’m any kinda man, and this girl had legs. They aren’t perfectly smooth, I can tell, but they are silver.

She’d look good pressed up against the aquariums, I thought, with the water light bubbling the darkness away, and my hand hidden between her calves cos’ that’s where the real sweet spot is, in the join between the nerves and the muscles and bound Ginsberg Prometheus ain’t never howled like I’ve dreamed of her howling when you get your finger in the right spot.

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