warmth

I can hear a slight and repetitive creaking as the light from the hallways floods in and out of the room as the door swings in the weak breeze. The blinds are lopsided and twisted. It is dark on the other side of them, though I can see the built up dust sitting on their surface. I move from my desk chair to the crumpled bedsheets, a slight warmth and dampness over them. I grasp the base of the lamp sitting beside me, seeking a more consistent hue, and some sense. The metal is hot, but the switch, though I flick it back and forth, does not provide light or clarity.

I move my hand down the patterned metal, expecting the warmth to fade as I move away from the globe. It remains hot the whole way along, and a hushed sizzle comes from the wires poking from the back. As I move closer to the sound, the scent of burnt plastic slithers into my nostrils. The lamp has blown, yet I don’t even remember turning it on. The evidence of its previous livelihood is non-existent — there are no dancing shadows upon the walls or the ceiling, marked instead with cracks and old webbing, and I don’t know whether there ever was. The sizzling and the growing heat flusters me. Small bumps appear over my arms and legs, and a gentle sweat grows above my lip. ‘When did I turn this on?’ My teeth hit my bottom lip and pull back on it.

I rest my eyes with the heat of the lamp pulsing through my palm and up my arm. I remember the calloused hand that used to cling to my wrist when I was a child, the warmth of the palm warming the rest of my body. Lifting my head into the wind, the cold stinging my eyes, to see my father smiling back at me.

I grasp at the bedsheet, my right hand still firmly against the warm lamp. I can curl my hand around the sheets and hold them tightly, just like I did to my mother as a child.

I open my eyes and look about. Outside the window is darker now and there is coldness stinging the tip of my nose and the back of my hands. The door continues to swing with a subtle creak. I look at what I am holding. I am alone, with nothing but superficial warmth falling over me.

I untwist my hand from under the sheets and pull the lamp’s cord from the wall. Dragging my hands across my eyes and relieving them of the crusted sleep in their corners, I realign my mind with where it should be. I recall turning the lamp on, craving its warmth through the night. Its metal is finally growing cool, and I stretch to slam the door and cease its swinging. The room the dark and cold. I am alone, my hands left empty and the memory of my parents’ warmth travelling further away.

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