Stained Glass

Author: Anna Russell /

Come away from the window, she says. Put down those damned dolls, she says. She’s always saying. Word after word after word. I’ve stopped saying much, myself. Or listening to her. The window is better, when he’s there.

I hate her fucking lips. She pouts when she wants sex and it looks ridiculous. When she goes down on me, she maintains the pout and forgets to purse. Looks up at me with a pathetic faux porn star gaze. Yummy, she says. You’re such a big boy, she says. Once, I gave one of my miniature soldiers long yellow hair made from a shredded invoice and painted its bottom half to look like her favourite jeans. Then I had it go down on another figure with a bored look in his eyes that took me three hours to get just right. Silly, she said. You’re so silly. I ignored her and called the figures Barbara and Tom because those are the sorts of names people like us have.

She doesn’t like him. He came over once, not long after we’d moved in, and brought a strawberry cheesecake that he’d made from scratch. She said the strawberries were a little tart. Said it right to his face as we sat at the table, surrounded by boxes whose contents said nothing other than we owned some stuff. He was gracious about it. Sure, his eyebrows twitched and there was an inhalation that sucked down displeasure, but all that came out of his mouth was: Yeah, they are a bit. Sorry ‘bout that. I said nothing, then regretted it later. He’d noticed, he told us, the ivy growing over our bedroom window. We should get that seen to; ivy could cause some damage if left unchecked. Besides, it would block out our morning sun. He left after about an hour, telling us not to be strangers. That was the last time I ever spoke to him. She said she didn’t think much of him at all, and who wears sleeveless shirts any more anyway?

I hacked down the ivy the next morning. When it was all gone, I went upstairs to look out of our bedroom window for the first time. He was looking back at me. I was about to wave when he ducked behind his curtains, leaving only the top of his head visible. If he knew I could see him, he’d rather pretend he didn’t. She came up then, and kissed me, rubbing her thigh against my crotch. The curtains twitched. She didn’t notice. Ooh, somebody’s up, she said.

She made me lunch after that and I said I was going to eat it upstairs. She wasn’t happy, but she huffed instead of arguing so I didn’t care. Our bedroom window had a ledge thick enough to sit on and I balanced the plate on my lap and looked out. He was still there, half-hidden behind his curtains. I ate slowly, aware of his eyes on me, and lunch tasted better than it had in a long time.

I moved my figures and paints to the window ledge and took one of the dining room chairs upstairs. He watches every time I paint. I’ve created armies, families, entire villages under his watchful eye. I think he likes them. They’re pointless, she says. A waste of time you could be spending with me, she says. He doesn’t think so. He just watches and appreciates, silently. I do spend time with her, when he’s not there. I’ve helped her to plant a rose bush and watched several movies in her presence. It’s more tolerable now, knowing he’ll be back at his window soon, approving in silence of my life. Or finding it interesting at the very least. She never sees him. I don’t think it occurs to people like her to look out of windows, not properly.

In her opinion, our sex life has improved. I suppose she’s right – mine has, and since hers is the body that’s present while I’m having sex, it follows that hers has too. Oh my, she says. Aren’t you a frisky one tonight? The curtains twitch extra hard on these nights. I’ve taken to doggystyle and am learning to drown out her words.

He’s never had a visitor before, but today he does. A woman with short red hair and a flat ass. He’d been watching me hang up my shirts when I caught a glimpse of her coming up the path. He stopped watching me and left his room pretty abruptly.

I have no idea who she is. I go downstairs, but wherever he’s taken her to, it’s not accessible from any of my windows. Probably his living room. I go back upstairs and decide to wait for him. He won’t stay away for long. It’s likely some Jehovah’s Witness he’s taken pity on. He’s like that. I paint a handsome figure with half his head in shadow.

After a while, his bedroom door opens again. He’s back. But it’s red hair I see come into view, with him following behind. He’s taken her to his room! This is not something I have anticipated. What is his intention here? She sits on the edge of his bed and he stands in front of her, the top of her head coming to about his stomach. Are they…?

Then she’s behind me, wearing the most stupid underwear I’ve ever seen in my life. The faux porn star look is on her face, too. Thought I’d surprise you, she says. Thought we could spice things up a little, she says. Fucking great. I’m trying to see what he’s doing with the redhead, but the woman in my own home has other ideas. Come on, she says. We haven’t christened the spare room yet. She tugs at my arm and I can see I have no choice. So I leave with her. Leave him and his redhead unwatched.

I was thinking about a romantic weekend away, just the two of us, she says, dimpled thighs spilling out of her ridiculous stockings.

I’d like to think I’ll kill her one of these days, but I know I probably won’t. The Barbaras and Toms of this world don’t do these things. They just carry on.


Author: Anna Russell / Labels: ,

“I’m bored of talking about myself” I lie,
my nakedness in flesh only. It is all I need
for now. The night distends and the spilt
moonlight ushers the huddled through sand-dusted
streets. I have not yet decided if I care
where they are headed, or why.
“I want to hear about you.” This may or may not be
another lie.

He runs a finger round my belly button. It feels nice.
I am not ashamed of my nakedness; I have grown into this
imperfect skin and learned, if not to love it exactly,
to accept it. He seems happy enough.
He keeps telling me I’m beautiful. Over and over,
as though the words have staged a coup in his mouth
and will not leave. It’s okay,
I like hearing it.

Names of flowers, the president of Romania, God:
these are some things I do not know.
Him. I know some of him. I know his flesh against mine,
How he feels between my thighs. The rest?
I think it is unnecessary.

“Tell me about…” he begins. I press a finger to his lips
and smirk.
“Come now.” I say, “Come. Now.”
This is all I need
for now.