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“In the house..” by Anita Goveas

…the man and the woman live without speaking. They’ve turned their attention elsewhere.

In the spare room, the woman feeds calciworms to her largest bearded dragon. The sticky tip of its tongue tickles against her palm. The others wait in their vivariums, and she sees herself reflected in their clear bright eyes. She will scoop one up, making sure to support its legs, and the weight of its body will rest against her heart.

In the loft, the man adjusts the thermostat so that his lavender Dendrobium orchids can gather themselves to bloom. They blush gently in their specially diffused light and scent the air with the papery smell of baby powder. He checks their leaves for scorch and presses the buttons to play ‘Isn’t she lovely’ for encouragement. He bobs his head to the upbeat.

In the bathroom, the woman changes the water in her musk turtle tank while the filtration unit whirrs. She sweeps away fragments of bitter uneaten duckweed, she checks their UVB light bulb. Their blackish-brown shells glisten. The man keeps his toothbrush and washcloth by the kitchen sink.

In the kitchen, the man mists the leaves of his bird’s nest ferns. He checks the roots and rotates the cool smooth pebbles that help keep them well- drained. The air around them is warm and moist against his skin, a tiny micro climate he’s created. The woman eats pizza in the paved over garden, under a rusted beach umbrella when it rains.

In the nursery, the cot sits in pieces, the Babygro’s stay wrapped in the room where the words were last spoken.

In the silence, Stevie Wonder croons ‘we have been heaven blessed’. The bearded dragons blink, the orchids sway. And in the kitchen and in the bathroom, the man and the woman rest their heads in their hands and quietly weep.

Anita Goveas can be found on Twitter @coffeeandpaneer.

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