‘Hey, come look!’ Merrily yelled from her studio. She was bent over fabric, smiling at the design she’d created.
Looking across the back yard, she could see Martin in their kitchen, clanking dinner plates and cutlery into the dishwasher. He raised a hand to indicate he’d heard her.
‘Be there in a sec.’ His words were muffled, coming through the closed sliding doors.
Merrily gazed at the fabric stretched taut across a frame. Silk-screen. It was her favourite method for printing designs. The blotches of ink began as nothing, then came to life.
A metaphor for her, she mused. When Martin found her, she was nothing. In her mind, at least. And her parents’.
She glanced towards the kitchen again, hearing the shuuushh of the sliding doors and its ker-thunk as it clunked shut behind Martin. She watched him traipse over the grass towards the studio as her mind wandered back to those last moments with her parents.
‘We’ve had it with you,’ her dad had said. ‘You refuse to live by our rules, so you’re out. Pack a bag. We want you gone by morning.’
Once too often she’d come home after curfew, drunk, love-bites on her neck, smelling of cigarettes and alcohol. Their devout, fundamental religion only applied in punitive circumstances. The part in the Bible where it stated to forgive and love without ceasing didn’t register with Merrily’s parents.
Merrily had looked across at her mum. She was sitting on the edge of Merrily’s bed, with her lips pursed like a cat’s bum, her eyes glaring at an imagined speck on the carpet.
‘We don’t want to see you again,’ barked her dad. ‘And don’t try knocking on the neighbours’ doors either. They’ve been warned about you.’
Merrily packed her things and left. She’d lived rough, sleeping in train stations, under bridges, sometimes couch surfing. She’d met Martin in the cafe where she worked as a barista. He’d come in every lunchtime, flirt briefly while waiting for his long macchiato.
‘Well, let’s see it then,’ Martin said, jolting her out of her reverie.
She was sitting cross-legged on the floor. Glancing up, she grinned and said, ‘Oh, I was miles away. Sorry.’ Her eyes danced. She went to stand.
‘Don’t get up,’ Martin murmured. ‘I recognise that look in your eye.’ He sat behind her, pulled her back into his chest and nuzzled her neck with his lips.
Merrily giggled. ‘But don’t you want to see the design?’
‘Of course I do, but I want you first. You didn’t bring me out here just to look at fabric, surely?’ His eyes glimmered as she turned to face him.
‘Well, maybe I did have an ulterior motive,’ she teased, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal his wide chest. She kissed his shoulder, moved up to his chin and finally found his lips.
He pulled away. He reached for a rag, next to the table with the screen-printer on it. ‘Let me just wipe off this droplet of ink.’ He dabbed gently at her forehead while she peeled herself out of her clothes.
Afterwards, lying on the hardwood floor next to the gas heater and entwined in each other’s arms, Martin said, ‘What did you want to show me?’
Merrily chuckled. ‘Just a new design. Nothing that can’t wait.’
Image sourced: https://www.widewalls.ch/screen-printing-silksreen-prints/