I Told Him

I told him. Didn’t I tell him. You know. Of how it would be. Not how it was. I swear I told him. I might’ve told him. I’m sure I told him. Though if I didn’t tell him I’ll… no, I told him, I told him.

 

Sitting next to me, he clutched at his knees while muttering. Thoughts like a merry-go-round, but less a merry- than a confusion-. Muddle. Muddle-go-round. I mentioned it to him, though he didn’t actually respond. Just kept on sitting on my pillow. As he did. All the time. I said this too. I told him how it annoyed me now, but he was too occupied to move. So I moved. Rooms.

Because of the way it’s laid out, his room wasn’t more than a few steps down the way from mine. Same look, of course. The white grime on the walls. I just wanted some sleep and I couldn’t very well sleep with thighs on my pillow. I lay on his, looking at the white grime. The walls weren’t white by origin. Cream paint thinly over cinder blocks. Cinder blocks that seemed to trap cold air between them, so lying with your back to them was the only way to preserve any body heat. You had to curl into a ball with your hands between your legs some nights, just to keep circulation. It was harder to do on his bed. I’d worked myself a little rut-hole in mine, the mattress suited my shape now.

 

If only he’d get off my pillow.

 

I stood again and moved back to my room. I was going to sleep on my bed tonight. It’d been two days. And they didn’t care if people swapped rooms. They only cared that there was one person per room. They’d do a little walk around, not really caring to notice if the room number matched the person in it’s number. As long as it was one per room, and all rooms were occupied.

So I stood in front of him.

 

It wasn’t me, it was him, I told him. But he didn’t listen. Not my fault. Not my fault.

 

Crazy words. Still going round and round. Yoyo head now. Because with each syllable his head was going down, then up, then down, then up again. I told him to move. I liked him. But not enough.

 

Can you move?

 

What, why. I’m not done. That’s what I said. I’m done. I’m completely done. I told him, I swear. But he didn’t listen. I just… did it. I said I would. I told him I was done.

 

Can you. Move? Now. I want to sleep. I want to sleep now.

 

Oh, God.

 

He wasn’t about to move. For anyone. So I walked out of my room again. Not defeated, just thinking. I was about three storeys up. One below me, another below that, then the ground a long way down from that. If you walk out any of these rooms you see the big space they can look down and watch. Communal area, for walking around, policed from above and the sides. It was a bit calming to watch how far I was above everything else. If I looked up I could see the floor above mine, then the ceiling. Complete with cream-painted metal beams. To support the ceiling. All metal. One barred skylight. Nothing in particular. To stop anyone breaking it, I suppose.

I tapped my fingernails on the bars I was leaning against. I wanted to sleep. Every muscle was telling me to sleep now. I could try to sleep in his room but it was too cold. And the bed didn’t fit me. At all. And I could try to wait until he left but I was already annoyed. I wanted a few minutes on my own before they’d come and lock the doors.

 

I walked back in.

 

Can you get out please. I want to sleep.

 

Can you get out, I’m not done.

 

Yeah well. I’m done.

 

So I grabbed his shoulders. Stepped back and pulled him up. Or tried that but his knees were still bent and he fell on to his side on the floor as I let him go. But he offered no resistance. Probably a little surprised his friend was forcing him out the room.

 

I told you, I wanted to sleep.

 

No but I.

 

I wasn’t really listening. I just took his arm again, but this time he got to his feet. Muscle was there now, he was something. That was okay. I didn’t mind. I was still angrier. I walked backwards with him near me, hands pushing weakly at me. Not wanting a fight to start. But still.

I got him out my room, and went to push him back into his, a few steps away. He kept pushing at me. Palms on my chest. It wasn’t really okay, I didn’t really like it. I shook my head at him, told him again to leave me alone in my room. Not to come in again.

 

But it’s my room.

 

No, that’s your room. Behind you.

 

That’s not my room. That was my room.

 

So I pushed him again. To make him let go of me, which he did. And I moved and he followed me, keeping his hands up to push me. But I pushed him again from a different angle. And he didn’t try to push me anymore.

 

I went back to my room. To prove myself, I sat on my pillow, where he’d been sitting. I could already hear something happening from beyond my cinderblock walls but I didn’t mind now. I had my pillow and my bed back. All that off-white. My pillow. Sort of lilac but not quite. Lilac that was ill and pale.

I felt my own head spin for a minute. Put it down to sleeplessness. He’d been in my room for fifteen minutes before I’d got him out now. Very irritating.

 

I folded my knees up to my chest to keep out the cold as I rested my thighs on my pillow. Picked at a loose thread on my trouser knee. It came off. Left a slight hole.

 

Oi.

 

I looked up. Someone standing there in my way, in the way of my thinking. I kept my hands on my knees calmly.

 

I saw what you just did. C’mon. Up. Off the bed. It’s not yours. Anymore. Not now you did that.

 

I blinked a little. Dressed like me, was he, the man in front of me. I opened my mouth.

 

I told him. Didn’t I tell him. You know. Of how it would be. Not how it was. I swear I told him. I might’ve told him. I’m sure I told him. Though if I didn’t tell him I’ll… no, I told him, I told him.

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