fter two weeks, the yelling had stopped. The fight had settled into a low, slow radioactive cloud. Meals were taken in silence. Eye contact, when made, left third degree burns. Obscenities, no longer spoken, were still telegraphed by the banging of doors, the rolling of eyes. They no longer slept. Sleep was for the dead and the forgiven.
The original insult went unremembered. A careless word. A missed date. It didn’t matter. The event had only been a money laundering operation for the real crime: their hearts were broken.
The days mounted. The fight was a kidney stone that would not pass. The pressure built like the marshalling of infantry at the borders, until one Saturday morning at the breakfast table, someone sighed at an ill-advised moment. Offense was taken. Violence seemed imminent.
At that precise moment, their front door was kicked in and a pantheon of garishly coloured bears entered the kitchen. Small bears, walking upright. Their stomachs were painted with strange symbols, like gang tattoos.
She screamed, he shrieked. They ran through the house, tossing chairs and bookshelves behind them, scrambling upstairs. But the bears pursued them relentlessly.
They cowered on the bed, together, as the knob rotated one way and back the other and the door swung inward slowly, whining on hinges. The bears filled the doorway. They seemed to glow, like the phosphorescence of deep underground caves and unspoken things. They thrust their distended bellies forward and beams of light exploded from them, washing over the two people on the bed. Burning their clothes, ruffling the sheets.
When they awoke hours later, naked and entangled, they were alone. The house was quiet. He pulled her close, she burrowed up under his chin. They were so close. Like the universe before the bang. Waiting to drift.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.