by Louise Watts
In Venice I dreamt I was vomiting glass. It came out of me in small cubes, like smashed car windows. It was not sharp. I leaned over and out it came, an opaque pile at my feet, small lumps skimming and scattering over the dream floor and under the dream wardrobe, in the dream room. When I woke, the real room and wardrobe were there, and the real floor was bare, and you were beside me, drunk. I had broken my insides by accident.
You lay on the bed not only in your clothes, but in your coat.
My stomach hurt. I needed milk. Anything to dilute the acid, to soften it. I went to the bathroom and ran water into a cup.
Now, I saw how it was.
I would go back on the train.
But before that, there would be another night and it would be a version of this first night.
We would walk from bar to bar, both of us beneath your greatcoat when it got cold, hip against hip in rough lockstep. We would drink grappa and wine and beer, and you would bring out the wad of soft lire from your pocket until we were down to the coins, and the counting of the coins.
We would not get to see St Mark’s.
We would of course cross small bridges and descend steps. I would try to stop you falling in the water. We would eat. We might come to a sudden standstill in the middle of walkways and kiss – and with eyes closed imagine our kissing selves through the eyes of others – but we would not do any of the other things: travel by boat across the lagoon, talk about the future, visit museums, learning almost without noticing it something we had not thought to think about before – such as the ingredients added in the making of old mirror glass – traces of gold and bronze to the amalgam of mercury and tin – which once brought a softness to old mirror light, and made reflections more beautiful than the real.
This story won 1st Prize in the Glass Themed Flash Competition in 2020.
About the author: Louise Watts’ novella-in-flash Something Lost was published in November 2020 by Ad Hoc Fiction. Her short fiction and poems have appeared in Ambit, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine, Raceme, Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual and have been short and long-listed in competitions run by Mslexia, National Poetry Society, The Plough and Fish. She lives in Oxfordshire with her family and dog.