In February we got a new roommate, her name was Fiona. She told us almost immediately that she was two months pregnant, announced it over breakfast like a cracker joke punch line: ‘I’m an oven full of bun, officially, took a test and everything’. She seemed kind of pragmatic about the situation so Paul and I, we didn’t say congratulations, just ‘oh wow’ and ‘well that’s something’. At least she came with her own cutlery: one knife, one fork, one Crunchy Nut Cornflake spoon she’d saved up tokens for. She never wore anything other than shorts around the flat and always complained about it being cold. She’s quarter-to-adult old. Her jewellery consisted of silver crosses and lockets hanging on bits of string, tan lines of chains round the back of her neck, shadows of what she’d traded in. She’s an artist from up north, performing in a thing where she stands still in the street, seed in her clothes, for as long as it takes pigeons to land on her and needle loose loops in to threads that trail. She’d ordered train tickets in advance, London was the mission and we were supposed to be just a stopping off point. Three months later and she was starting to show and looking for places of her own but I didn’t want her to go. Last week Paul came home early from the station and he caught us in the kitchen, my ear resting on the roundest part of her smooth belly. She’d slipped her denim shirt off her shoulders, letting it hang from her arms, while we held our breath because we thought I could hear beating. His feet needed gripping, looked like he might fall over but he just dropped his Tesco bags instead, the sounds of groceries slapping against laminate making us start. We must have looked a picture. Bra-less she tried to mimic timidity, wrapping her shirt back round herself. He stood completely still, his mouth rigid. She said ‘I need money’. I said ‘really?’ It had honestly never come up in conversation. He didn’t hesitate, saw my face hovering so close to her skin that I could feel the warmth from it, and pointed her towards the door: ‘beat it’.
Laura Tansley’s writing has appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Gutter, Lighthouse, Litro, New Writing Scotland, The Real Story, The Rialto, Southword, Tears in the Fence and is forthcoming in Stand. She is also co-editor of the collection ‘Writing Creative Non-Fiction: Determining the Form’. She lives in Glasgow and tweets from @laura_tans.