The Hero Wakes up in a White Room

by D.S. Maolalai

You’ve seen it before.
They say a lot of writers
with something like it,
because they are looking
at starting
on a white page,
and I believe them,
because most writers
are nothing
if not suggestible.

But in your case,
of course,
it is only because
the girl
has recently moved in
and has not yet unpacked to decorate;
the windows don’t have blinds yet
and the sun
has landed on your face like a baked cloth
and made you hot in your sleep
and thirsty.

She is still asleep.
She’s sleeping off a hangover
and she will not speak in this story
because you understand enough to know
that to wake her now
would be truly a cruel act
so you get up yourself
and go to the kitchen,
through an open door,
into an empty hallway,
over an unmatted hardwood floor,
and you pour a coffee cup
with water,
rinse it out
and pour again.

And you drink from it
feeling the cold nothing
with your thumb hooked under the handle,
and then you look around,
see the nails in the walls
where the last tennent’s pictures hung,
see the whiter patches
where their shelves had been standing,
and their posters,
and see all the spaces
for their chairs and their TV tables,
empty now
except for some scratches where they had sat.
All that is in the room
you see
are boxes
and bags
and you
and potential
and, of course,
this room
is also white.

And you finish the water in the cup,
wipe your mouth
and have a little more from the faucet,
and then you fill it again
before padding back and placing it on the table next to her
where she will reach out
to take it
when she wakes up.

And then you wrap a t-shirt on your head
to guard against the damage of the sun,
walk around the bed,
get in,
and go back to sleep.


D.S. Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights drinking wine. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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