top of page

The men I keep under my bed

"as if no generation can kill the ghosts of the last
as if we're all buried with them
and their dirt is trapped between our teeth
forming the sleep in our eyes"

Large image from cover of The men I keep under my bed

A young woman wakes feeling raw and tender after a one-night stand. She leaves a strange man sleeping in her bed and goes running. Marked by the anxiety of living in a city that does not feel like home, she must face the men and memories kept under her bed.

Cover image by Jacob Stack
Read the opening from the book

we sign in a wrinkled suit

he leans in over our desk

 

“what are two pretty girls like you

doing in a place like this”

 

I want to say

we are sitting, what does it look like

and you sir, do you do much beyond leer

do you want to hear our delicate intricacies

 

I know you, in a way that you will never know me

because you are staring at my hair, my breasts, my eyes

 

you don’t see my leg shake as you ask some other question

you’ve not heard my voice when it’s pitched quiet, low, its actual sound

not this complex girlish noise that comes out over telephones

and for you, it stands to attention around men like you

 

Niamh is better at these situations

she fixes-him-up with the kind of sugar

passed down to her by other women

like a recipe for Granny’s gingerbread

or the secret to fashioning the perfect tart

the one that saw them all through marriage

 

“aren’t you an old charmer

if I was twenty years older”

 

that is, she says no

but keeps it harmless

she offers him the desire he wants

without the humiliation he deserves

 

I bite my lip

without the guts to do either

 

he has the stooped shoulders of my grandfather

old eyes, you can read twinkles into them or sad stories

 

because of this, I stay silent

like I do with grandad

who walks circles through his bungalow

 

sometimes he hears her in the bedroom

 

John, I’m listening, John, I’m watching, John, I’ll always love you

 

gone three years

how those years have changed him

stooped over ancient mythology

drinking almond milk

he says she sends messages

through a flickering lightbulb

 

some days, he times the darkness

sends my father updates on its frequency

 

then my father phones me

as if no generation can kill the ghosts of the last

as if we’re all buried with them

and their dirt is trapped between our teeth

forming the sleep in our eyes

Originally published in Flare

bottom of page