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by Adam Lock

The toilet seat was cold and wet beneath her; he’d been pissing on it for months — for as long as the lightbulb had blown. She sighed, imagined him standing over the toilet, his eyes closed, his back arched, the sound of piss hitting water, then porcelain, then the seat.

She’d put a new lightbulb, in its cardboard box, on the stairs for him. That was three months ago. Every time she passed it on the stairs she remembered what she’d said; it was meant as a joke, a flippant, off hand request, made with no thought. When he’d asked for sex, she told him not until he changed the lightbulb. She thought he’d laughed, but now, remembering, she couldn’t be sure. They’d not made love for as long as it had been dark in the bathroom.

Wiping herself, she shook her head, felt again the sinking sensation of regret in her stomach. It was unreasonable to use sex like that; she knew better than to use intimacy as currency.

She’d been holding a grudge for so long — and over a lightbulb. He’d told her how stubborn she could be, how childish. The last time he’d told her so, the only response she’d thought reasonable was to shrug.

She took the lightbulb from the stairs, and standing on a stool, replaced the dud one in the bathroom. Upon contact, the bulb illuminated the room and she winced at its brightness.

Turning off the light, the darkness was now a different place; she’d become a better person. In backing down, she would show him her maturity, her humility. She walked taller, moved with more grace, with a lightness.

When she got into bed, she would do the thing he liked. It would be her apology. She looked forward to the morning, to another world in which their little war was over.

Sliding beneath the duvet, she reached across for him and offered her terms of surrender.


Afterwards, she told him she loved him, but her words sounded odd.

The morning light illuminated the edges of the curtains like a picture frame. With her head resting on his chest, she both heard and felt his words, “You change the bulb in the bathroom?”

Breathless, and with the intonation of a question, she whispered, “Yes.”

He moved away from her, and in the curtained-darkness, she thought she saw him smirk. He lay on his side, facing the opposite way.

Moments later, she turned away also, mirroring his position. It was too late. She wanted to go back in time and take back the bargain she’d suggested: the light in the bathroom for her affection. But it had been done; she knew he would not lift the toilet seat again without her demanding it of him. And that meant everything. She grimaced and then sighed as she settled into her cold side of the bed.

Adam Lock wakes far too early in the morning, in the Black Country, in the UK, to write stories that try to explode the small happenings in life. As he’s a teacher, he uses a pen name. He has stories published in STORGY, Fictive Dream, Vending Machine Press, Fiction Pool, Literally Stories, Firefly Magazine, Occulum, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Ghost Parachute and The Green Light. You can find links to these stories on adamlock.net. He is also active on Twitter: @dazedcharacter.