James Holden: Beds

The first bed they shared was in the flat he rented: a divan with sides that were covered in faded material. It had no headboard, and by the time he moved out discolouring on the wall showed where their heads rested when they sat up in bed.

They were bought a wooden-framed bed when they moved in together. After he assembled it she made it up with crisp new bedding. It travelled with them up the route of the Piccadilly line as they began a slow march towards London’s fringes. On Saturday and Sunday mornings they would sit in it with mugs of coffee, the weekend papers disgorging their contents across the duvet. It was probably the bed she conceived in. It was the bed on which their children would jump up and down to wake them up at 5.30 on Christmas morning.

But they did not stay faithful to this bed, sleeping on sofabeds whilst at their parents and their friends. They had got engaged on a camping holiday: that night she had been unable to sleep with excitement, slowly running her fingers over the diamond engagement ring, careful not to make any sudden movement and avoid being bounced around on the airbed.

Years later, when their children moved out they bought them new beds and treated themselves to a king-size one with a padded headboard. They would stretch out and laze in it, enjoying the peace they had been given by the departure of their children and their early retirement.

In their twilight years they bought twin beds, so they wouldn’t disturb each other on drawn out trips to the toilet (him) or long periods spent awake, tossing and turning in the middle of night (her). It was the bed he found her in when she died.

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About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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