The suburbs are cloaked in a smoky orange haze; it sinks down slowly over the rooftops and sifts through tree branches and power lines before settling down in the gutters between soggy leaves and bird shit. The grass is cool and wet and thick with rain. The houses are quiet and the street is empty.
“How long do you think we have?” I say. Half leaned against you. You stink of old sweat and stale cigarette smoke. Your shirt’s a few days old. Stubble a few days old. Hair greasy.
We’re sitting sunken down into the couch in the living room, watching Foxtel on the enormous television. The dog is snoring like a chainsaw in her bed beside us. The coffee-table is littered with empty beer bottles, caramello koala wrappers, empty chip packets, a gatorade bottle with a hose sticking out of it in the middle. The Simpsons is on the telly.
You check your phone.
“Forty minutes, maybe.”
My mouth is sticky. Teeth furry. Makeup smudged.
“Enough time for pizza?”
“Yeah, probably.” You flick your phone on, glance at the screen, then nod. “Yeah.” The pink light from outside glints off your ring. The sky is the same colour as the long pink scar running down the side of where your thumb meets your palm.
We order on my phone.
“I always go dominoes,” you’re saying. “They have this thing where you can pay an extra three dollars to get your pizza delivered within twenty minutes. If it doesn’t arrive in time you get the next pizza you order free.”
“Oh, shit,” I say.
“Yeah, I always order from the store near my place ‘cause I know they won’t get it to me in twenty minutes. So I get a free pizza.”
“Damn,” I say.
“I went with Eagle boys.”
The entire neighbourhood is drenched in colour. The fences and rooftops and power lines like sponges sucking it up, becoming heavy from the weight of it.
You lean forward and pack some more bud into the cone and light it up. The dog gets up and ambles over, milky cataracts reflecting the pink from outside. She looks up at us. You move the flame from the lighter in circles inside the cone and the water bubbles noisily. When you let go I watch the smoke rush up through the bottle and into your mouth.
“Do you think they’ll get here before it starts?” I ask. You exhale, check your phone.
“Hopefully,” you say. “Don’t want to die waiting for pizza,” you say, and you laugh. I pack more into the cone and light it up again. You pick up the remote and start flicking through the channels.
“Not the news.” I say. You change the channel and put Futurama on. I sink back and stare at the screen. The pink outside is getting more brilliant and vivid in my periphery.
There’s a knock at the door and I get up and fiddle with the keys. One of the cats is standing in the doorway to the garage, glaring at me from around the frame.
“Hey puss,” I say. It hisses.
We all go out to the patio, me with the pizzas, you with the coke and garlic bread, the dog pottering clumsily behind us. You hold your phone up to take a photo of what’s left of the pink quickly fading from the sky.
“Shame about the colour,” I say.
“I was hoping it would stay all pinky for it,” I say. Lights start switching on in all the small windows around the neighborhood. Televisions start flicking on, glowing blue and pale in the yellow light of the living rooms.
“Glad I got the day off,” I say, ripping open the garlic bread. You’re lighting the bong again. “Just in case.” You put the bottle down and swing one arm around my shoulders, rub my back. All the colour’s dropped from the sky and darkness starts to settle in.
The dog starts to whimper. I wave at her and pat my lap. She turns around, ducks her head, then crawls into her bed and puts her head down into the blankets, whimpers again.
“Aw puppy,” I say. You’re still rubbing my shoulder. It’s dark enough now that I can’t see the shapes of the electricity tower and treetops against the sky. And it’s completely quiet but for us flicking lighters and chewing and playing tinny music from the phone.
The temperature plummets so we go back inside and I put the dog’s jacket on her and you bring blankets out to the living room. We leave the curtains open so we can see out the window and we glance at it out of the corner of our eyes between Futurama and ad breaks. The dog starts whimpering again and I get up to find her more blankets. The tiles are icy cold and my teeth start to chatter. I grab beers from the fridge and when I close it I see a fridge-magnet of the real-estate agent who sold my brother the house. There’s a crude penis penned in over his face. He’s smiling widely through the biro phallis.
I shut the fridge and sit back down on the couch with you. You’re shivering and you open your arms and we huddle together, trying to keep warm.
The telly keeps playing on in the background. We move to the floor to sit at the window and stare out into the dark. The dog is pressed into my side, still whimpering, and I shiver and pet her absently.
It’s so dark outside we can’t even see the grass on the lawn. The fence a few metres away. My brother’s girlfriend’s small vegetable patch that she begged me not to forgot to water. Outside the window is completely jet-black and the cold is coming in through the walls. We pull the blankets tighter around ourselves and I put my arms around you and you put yours around me and we cling tightly, both bodies shivering, trembling while we wait.
Robyn is a twenty year-old living and working on the Gold Coast. She has had work published in Voiceworks Magazine and Cowhide Journal and can sometimes be found at radicsadic.wordpress.com.