Flashing Lights
Christine Tothill
Break
Marvin Walsh sits on his bed watching a girl, in a room, over the road. He is wearing a wrap-around skirt and a vest. His room is empty except for an electric fire and an unmade bed. A dirty duvet and three soiled pillows— stained light brown in the middle— are behind him. Marvin sits on his bare mattress observing her. She is texting; both hands hold her phone; he sees her thumbs pressing buttons.
He wonders what she is saying and to whom.
She is concentrating— oblivious of her watcher.
Marvin's room, on the third floor in a rented house, is cold. He doesn't want to put his electric fire on; he shivers from the chill while excitement flows through him.
The girl, over the road, he wants.
Marvin normally gets what he wants, always has and always will. His mother makes sure of that. The only child of a one-parent family; he makes demands on her she happily fulfils— beyond his dreams. He is privileged. He lives at home with her still, not in this rotten place. This room is his bolt hole away from her. She wants him with her most of the time and he wants out.
He knew early on in his life he was going to get the most from his mother— the most love, the best things, the most of all— anything he desired. He made sure she gave him that.
But now he desires another. This is where he is at. He needs to escape; cut the cord.
A feeling Marvin hasn't used to his full potential, hasn't needed to. He has never needed to escape until he took over Nick's room, to escape his mother, once a week. It was then he saw the girl.
She puts her mobile phone down. She turns away, out of his sight. One curtain closes; a hand pulls the other to shut him out. She is gone, behind closed curtains.
Marvin stays on his bed, hands clasped, feet crossed.
It is cold; it's an hour since she shut herself away. Marvin's toes are numb and his back aches from sitting upright for so long; the mattress is thin and the bed frame digs into his buttocks. He is weary, nervous, waiting to glimpse her another time. One more time, and another, and another.
He wiggles his toes and rubs his hands together. His skirt is open, exposing him. He folds the soft material over his legs, straightens it to cover him.
Out the corner of his eye he catches movement from her room. She pulls one curtain, then the other. She is fully dressed, wearing a short, denim looking skirt with black stockings or tights. Her top is white and see-through. She sits on the windowsill and takes up her mobile and presses buttons. This time she listens to her call ringing; he can see her clearly.
Marvin stands and walks to the window, stretching as he does so. He lets his skirt fall at his feet.
She doesn't see him at first; she stands up and paces back and forth then sits back on the windowsill. She leans forward to stare; as though not believing what she sees.
Marvin raises his hand and waves to her; beckons her to come to him. He stands in the window completely naked. He waits for her to wave back.
Marvin waits for her to do what he wants her to.
Take notice of him.
In a way his mother is unable to.
He watches the girl with the phone; watches her talking; watches her every move. He doesn't hear the sirens nor see the flashing lights.
Marvin Walsh is watching a girl, in a room, over the road.
Christine Tothill is British and lives in Spain. She writes short fiction, flashes and articles. Christine has published work in UK and Spain. She writes with Alex Keegan's online Boot Camp and plays the organ in any other spare time she has, which is hardly ever.