Sunday Stories: “The Dances We Did Between Rocks and Hard Places”


The Dances We Did Between Rocks and Hard Places
by Julie Reverb

An eyeless spy hides. He’s seen the end so rests his head against a dead fox in a wardrobe. Old fur warms even ghosts’ stubborn skin. He keeps his breath gilled — silent — above uncracked bone. He wonders why he bothers when there is nothing to guess, no outcome unknown.

Sitting on the single bed, Lucy adjusts the gash in her gown. A perfunctory valley, where hiraeth imbues her scent and tears. She thinks of dad somewhere in the fields, off the map. Dad sounds like god. Dog. Backwards. Shapeless daddy. All-seeing. It’s up to her to bring him home, to make mum flame-proof. She wants fame. Clear-eyed rabbits. Fast feet on a drunk orbit. ‘Come in’ she says, unconvinced.

Mad Sinbad dips under the doorframe, hands rubbing his bouldered sides. ‘I’m not disturbing am I.’ ‘Of course not’, Lucy says. She decides half an hour. If she spaces out her words can she pad it out to primped nothing? Cheap meat pumped with water. Yes. Half an hour is that. But the clingy wrapping must be unsheathed first. ‘You can sit on the bed if you like.’ She pats blankets, her first wind-up gesture. Will she vomit or just feel like it. Sinbad ignores her. He picks up glass ornaments then places them elsewhere, anti-clockwise. He acts new to touch; wary. Lucy sees a trail of slime and wonders if love can ever evolve from languidness. He pauses at a crystal horse. ‘My dad got me that.’ Wrong answer. She loosens her silk belt. ‘How is the old man’ Sinbad says. Bobbing glance. No where is taking too long. Nowhere is a fat stubborn thing. ‘Away. Dowsing.’ ‘So it’s still just you and your mum then.’ ‘Yeah, just us.’ He sits down next to Lucy on the bed, still holding the ornament. She unties her belt, the soft valley opens. It’s Spring. ‘I know we’re behind but it’s hard,’ she says. ‘We’ve got big plans for the cinema. And we’ll always have the brand. We just need time. Mum’s been talking about a commemorative zoetrope…’ ‘Take it off.’ The gown falls. Sinbad fingers the animal’s inflections. Her hands console each other, naked; flood-lit. Both waiting in a deli counter queue, strangers with close numbers. Fat font barking under fluorescent light that stencils them unkindly. He likes his meat with a face. ‘Why don’t you like me?’ he asks. Terry in hiding tongues the fox’s snout. He sees its last stand and the hounds and gaze and grudge that stain the field. ‘I think you’re a lovely man, Sinbad. Really lovely.’ Her blood twitches, flooding faster. She smells sweat. Cunts must try hard to cum; Terry knows all aches. He bets on her dugs, either chapel hat pegs or splayed roses. He’s never wrong about anatomy. ‘Not like that though’, Sinbad says, his fingers now on the ears, tweaking. ‘We’re still getting to know each other,’ says Lucy. His hard hands now on legs. ‘Is it because of my head. It’s sweaty isn’t it. You think I look old.’ She’s unsure about this. She counts three Mississippis and pictures the journey of sedimentary rock into safe tepidness and unending sea with no memory. She decides to risk it, to toe muddy waters. Her hand now on his cheek, firm, unsympathetic. He grabs and slow burns her wrist. ‘Lie back.’

I’ve seen your sort milling about; cannibals pacing in the wings while us parasites take soft turns to keep our bellies in the warmth.

Sinbad holds the figurine firm and blinks too much, quick shutter releases past seeing. Lucy lies stunned, legs open for business. The animal slips over her skin, its four tiny hooves cold kisses. Up downy arms and the longer hairs common on the backs of girls’ thighs. She stares, lips letting out wider breaths, behind them nothing, no gut there. Hooves on chipped nails she hides in Winter. Ropey veins a busy sun knows and sees through. She can’t see if the horse has eyes. What does Terry really see with that thick grin of his. Some kind of kink in soft focus. Dave’s prime cut away from the picture. That is where life is. Sinbad’s mouth stays shut, his trajectory steady. The horse wanders over scars and pocks, dips in her belly. She laughs; it stops. Sinbad fumbles with one hand still on glass. She saw him coming. Spindly counts budge nothing of bulk and do not make the unmade bed. Lucy is at a loss, feeling smaller. He rams it home hard. The figurine’s head woodpecking. Lucy’s animal mouth protesting at its consonant future. She sounds like her mum, always nagging something nearing vague. All daughters become their mothers. Those were never odds.


Julie Reverb is a London, UK-based writer whose fiction has appeared in publications including The Quietus, 3:AM, Gorse and Numéro Cinq. Her début book – NO MOON – explores language, grief and a family-run porn cinema. It will be published by Calamari Archive in Summer 2015. Find her at and @juliereverb on Twitter.

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