30 May Laura Bardsley
CAN’T HARDLY STAND IT
Before Ophelia walked into that bar off Main, Mortimer felt a yawning emptiness growing within his abdomen.
It wasn’t so much that he was lonely—his parents had chosen a mate for him long before his existence had commenced,—but Mortimer had seen her already, knew her barely, and felt nothing.
Nothing was the problem; the meaninglessness of his life, his brother and sister’s lives, his whole society—it made him nauseous with nothingingness.
But Ophelia, her soft nape, her little inviting hairs and goosebumps, imbued his whole body, the earth, existence itself, with purpose.
Ophelia had walked into his life and changed it completely—a rural, low-maintenance working girl, taking a night to have a casual drink with herself at the bar kitty-corner to the alley behind her house.
Mortimer had stumbled upon her just to catch her sweet, soft voice order a double whiskey sour, a settled in amongst split beer and discarded pistachio shells – a classy dive, the perfect place to meet the woman of your dreams.
They spend the evening mostly in silent appreciation of each other’s presence—after an hour of basking in her scent, Mortimer had no doubt in his mind, albeit smaller in size and comprehension than most humans—that Ophelia was the answer, the cherry filling, to his crumby existence.
After another double whiskey sour, which Mortimer had but a drop of after Ophelia insisted by nearly pouring the whole thing on him, they set out, Ophelia in the lead, Mortimer on her coattails, to continue their date in the comfort and privacy of her home.
The three blocks to Ophelia’s stumbled by, and although climbing the staircase to her top-floor apartment is laborious, Mortimer can feel Ophelia’s and his own excitement growing, pulsating in anticipation.
As Ophelia opens the heavy oak front door, Mortimer admires the grace and agility exuded by her gestures. He again feels a sense of purpose washing over him.
The apartment is moodily lit, moodily cluttered; Mortimer is relieved. He has never been one for sterile cleanliness, and prefers a lived-in, well-loved home. He resolves that he must bring back to his own residence some new decor ideas, maybe a little lamp, like the one Ophelia has on her nightstand. A few open bags crowd the kitchen counter, and Mortimer takes a little morsel of bread and a few apple slices to tide himself over ’til breakfast.
The rest of the evening is spent listening to Ophelia: she speaks of her life, her fears, her regrets, her hopes, dreams, goals—during which Mortimer feels no need to give his own story, dreams, hopes–his whole existence pales in comparison to a flutter of her eyelashes. He resolves to dedicate himself to truly listening, understanding, and appreciating Ophelia; he would die happy simply knowing she exists.
Quite abruptly, but understandably so (Ophelia had been silent for the past 10 minutes, deep in drunken thought) Mortimer’s raison-d’etre shuts off the light next to the bed where they had perched, and quickly strips down to her underwear. Mortimer’s whole body seems to hold its breath, as his heart pumps fluid viciously. He crawls into bed beside Ophelia, cradling her pinky finger lightly as she falls asleep, she murmurs, and maybe it’s his nerves, but she seems to sigh his name with pleasure as she loses consciousness. Mortimer snuggles in beside Ophelia and resolves to share about himself tomorrow over coffee and biscuits.
Mortimer’s sleep is rested and peaceful, probably the best of his entire life.
Ophelia’s, on the other hand, seems troubled: she is tossing, turning, and sometimes twitches violently. She almost hit Mortimer a few times, but he didn’t notice, and if he did, he wouldn’t have taken it personally–she is so complex and beautiful, and her intentions, dreams, goals, are so refreshingly individual and pure.
As the morning sun hits Ophelia’s eyelids, her sleepy lashes flutter and she sighs, turning over, ready to embark on another dream.
Mortimer is so moved by her undeniable splendor that he can’t help but reach out his head and nuzzle her soft, warm nape. She sits, shrugs her shoulders and returns to sleep.
Mortimer grins, and decides that if he doesn’t communicate to Ophelia the extent of this overwhelming love for her, he will never forgive himself.
He swallows, reaches his head a second time towards her nape, rests his mouth on her fragrant skin, and gives Ophelia a playful love nibble.
Ophelia’s right hand slaps Mortimer away from her, flinging him, while her left hand desperately grasps around the covers for her cellphone. Finding it, she grips it firmly with both hands as Mortimer stares up at her in utter shock—was he too forward? All of his admiration for her hangs shimmering in the air between his body and her unforgiving stare, once warm but now completely devoid of any compassion or love.
Before Mortimer has a chance to say something, to move, to even process this truly unsettling turn of events, Ophelia bludgeons him to death with the back of her phone, and takes a moment to ensure that the ant carcass is no longer twitching, before wrenching open the window and tossing Mortimer, dismembered and at this point, completely heartbroken, out.
Ophelia feels absolutely nothing for Mortimer, no guilt for his untimely demise, and goes on with her life.
When she’s not hiding away writing music, poetry, and fiction, Laura Bardsley visits stray cats and lonely flowers haunting the streets of Montreal.