several hours earlier…

This story started here.

Pete woke up and stretched. He couldn't see very well without his glasses, but he could see some sunlight coming in through the window.

Pete's apartment had two rooms: a small bedroom and a larger room that served as living room, kitchen, dining room, and Pete's bedroom. His bed was an old mattress that he'd found in an alley, the massive round table in the center of the room had been left by a previous tenant (it must have been constructed in the apartment; it could never have fit up the narrow staircase or through the apartment door), and the straight-backed chairs were all held together with tape and string.

One of the many things he enjoyed about living with starling was that she apparently thought, as he did, that this was a perfectly sensible way to live. He sometimes got the idea that Daphne would have preferred a somewhat less shabby lifestyle, but of course she was a dog so it was difficult to be sure what she thought. Jan Sleet, the one time she had visited, had looked around carefully and pronounced it "gemütlich," but he had noticed that she had remained standing while she was there.

He felt the other side of the bed. No, he was alone. He reached up to the windowsill, located his glasses, and put them on. Blinking as he looked around, he saw starling on the far side of the room, in her sleeping bag, under the opposite window.

They had lived together for some time before becoming lovers, and that had been where she'd slept. There were still times when she was feeling tense and uneasy, and she moved over there in the middle of the night. This was not a rejection of him, he knew. It was simply that she'd be less likely to harm him if she had to cross the apartment to do it.

They never talked about this, but it was a practical fact of their life together; a risk they were both willing to take. Not that she was violent under most circumstances, but she did have bad dreams sometimes, waking up suddenly, disoriented and filled with rage.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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