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MORNING SERIAL; The Actaeon Tide.

Byline: Tom Anderson

NO repetition - every movement matters - nor crescendo. Just a rite of trust taken on together. Nor is there a spoken word when we're finished, but some time later - could be minutes, could be hours - we head upstairs in almost pitch black.

Ascending, I make out her silhouette on the stairs below me, now with her t-shirt back on but stuck perfectly to the outline of her breasts, and then we're asleep, apart but under the same cover - touching only at the feet.

Then I realise again how close all that violence from the other night is, eyelids closing then gulping for air as whatever's chasing me lurks just beyond the moment I switch off. But when I do go under, there's no time to get disturbed before I'm up again. I go to writhe against the visions of my own soul, but can't move, and when my eyes open and the world comes back, it's because I'm tied to the bed.

Curtains are open and a streetlamp outside cuts through the space in my room. This is real. Alys is sitting up watching me, and she's bound me to the bed. Both my hands are together - I think it's with tights or a long sock - which has been lashed around one of the wooden legs. I can't turn fully round to face her, but can't roll away either because she's used a sheet to press my feet flat to the bottom end.

She's still got the t-shirt on, and its hemline is just below her belly-button, but I can't see the details of her waist because she's sitting sideways, hips slanted, leaning on one arm with her lap hidden by shadow. Her look is neutral, and safe.

I don't fight it. Why should I? And I don't speak either. But she does.

'Keep still,' she whispers. 'We can't let them down.' Then she laughs, too quietly for me to be sure it's what I heard.

'We're OK here,' she adds, almost inaudible. 'A''As long as we stay just as we are.' It's clear the words are meant for no one but us. Then she adds, 'It isn't you. That's perfect. You're outside ofY the main thread now. This is exactly right.' And it sounds like sense, just because of how it comes out, so I do what she says, and when sleep comes back it's clean, and full.

>The Actaeon Tide by Tom Anderson is published by Parthian at PS9.99 CONTINUES TOMORROW

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 25, 2015
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