New story, written pretty quickly during write club. I'm not sure how i feel about it, it's pretty similar to the Dave Eggers story, "Roderick Hopes", and that makes me slightly uncomfortable. I try and write like him, but i don't want to just copy his work, you know? I wanted to get away from the modern fairy-tale stories i've been writing and try and do something slightly more realistic, but still not entirely normal.I should say that this is in no way autobiographical. Honest. Anyway, here it is.
Hannah was standing in her kitchen, in slippers, pants and vest, waiting for the kettle to boil and hoping that today it might not happen. Every morning for the past 2 weeks, since the morning after she and Nate first fucked, quietly and without much emotion, before he passed out, taking up most of her small single bed in her small single room, she had hoped it would not happen, and every morning she was disappointed.
The same thing happens every time. She wakes up before him, pads to the kitchen in her underwear, makes tea and waits, hoping. He wakes, stumbles to her in his boxers, still with sleep in his eyes. As she turns to fill the kettle for him he puts his arms around her waist and kisses the side of her neck, his hot, wet breath making her skin prickle and the short hairs stand on end as he whispers "good morning beautiful."
She told her friends about this new morning ritual and all of them "ooh-ed" and "aah-ed" and "isn't that romantic-ed," and she wondered why she didn't feel that way. She liked Nate, had seen him, desired him, pursued him and achieved him. They had trivialities in common, made each other laugh, found each other attractive, craved the touch of each others skin in the darkness, but this close morning contact repulsed her. She couldn't say why.
She had tried to avoid it. After the second time it happened she sensed a pattern forming, so the next moring she tried filling and boiling the kettle before he awoke. When he shuffled out, barely clothed and beautiful, she thought she would be safe. When he saw the already boiling kettle, the fact that she wasn't turning away, he came close, put his arm around her and breathed "good morning beautiful" right into her face, his breath hot and sickly sweet from sleep. It was all she could do not to pour the boiling water over his amorous head.
She tried to imagine why she reacted this way. Why his affectionate morning greeting made her skin crawl. Perhaps she was reacting to some repressed childhood memory of inappropriate, undesired or unexpected contact, but she could remember none. She had never had similar reactions to any of her previous partners, had never shied from their touch or breath. She decided that her aversion was irrational, and that the situation must be dealt with.
But how? She couldn't ask him to stop. If she did he would surely ask why, and she would not be able to tell him the truth. It was too early in their relationship for it to survive such a blow, and a relationship based on lies is one born to fail. She telling him that his endearing gesture made her skin crawl would end what was otherwise quite a satisfying partnership. The only thing she could think of was to do something equally repellent to him.
There followed a week of almost diabetes inducing affection which comforted and uplifted Nate almost as much as it exhausted and infuriated Hannah. Apparently he did not share the same aversion to early morning closeness, unbrushed teeth and stale sweat.
So we come to this morning, with Hannah, hoping, in her underwear. She has found a solution, the only one she can think of left open to her, her last resort. When she hears him stir she fills the kettle. When he enters the room she turns it on and does not turn away. As he puts his arms around her she tightens her grip on the handle. As he says "good morning" she lifts and begins to pour. He does not say "beautiful," and she is relieved.