As predicted, Ned is sprawled out on the couch when you walk into the lounge room.

He doesn't even look up as you cross into the kitchen and get a glass of water.

The television flickers the manic colours and images of music videos and Ned stares at it, the sound turned off.

You stand in the doorway and look over at him. His eyelids are half closed. He blinks and moves his eyes in your direction. Says nothing.

You are really tired and pissed off by now after a day of innuendoes about Jess and no-one willing to tell you anything that matters. You want to go to sleep but Ned is taking up the space that is meant to be your bed and shows no signs of moving in the near future.

You sit on a chair and sigh, lean back.

Ned has looked back at the tv. He burps.

'So,' you say,' Will you tell me about Jess.'

Ned is still, slowly he turns his head to look at you, then turns back to the tv.

Eventually he stands up and stretches, 'I'm going to bed.'

'That's it?' You stare at him, clenching your fists, feeling suddenly awake and angry.

Ned turns off the tv and shuffles out of the room and up the stairs. You hear the floorboards creak in his room above your head and let go of your hands.

In the dark, you grab the blanket Kate left for you and climb onto the couch, kicking Ned's full ashtray away.

Lying down, you sigh and stare at the ceiling, think of Ned sleeping off his night up there. 'Asshole,' you say aloud.

You see the dawn start through the window and try to decide.

It'll all still be here in the morning.


Philippa J Burne 1996

e-mail pburne@peg.apc.org