While You Sleep

by Lee Williams

I will wash and rinse your crockery and replace it in the cupboards. I will separate recyclable and biodegradable waste into colour-coded bins. I will wash down all surfaces with a lemon-scented cleaning product then I will wipe the bottle of cleaning product with an anti-bacterial wipe and burn the wipe. I will check the threshold and window-sills for offerings but I will resist becoming narky if there are none.

I will dust carefully and thoroughly, taking particular care with the treasured keepsakes and familial photographs. I will re-order the photographs where necessary to reflect the shifting politics of family life, relegating those fallen out of favour to less prominent positions and bringing the current fondlings forward. I hate the family! I hate the family! I will gently polish the glass over each picture with a chamois leather.

I will sluice the sinks and stool receptors with an infusion of bergamot. I will clean all the mirrors with vinegar and polish them with a cloth woven from the down of virgins. I will not look in the mirrors as I clean them. I will not ask them any questions. I will buff the chrome fittings until the eye slides smoothly over them and they are a challenge to behold.

I will chop all the vegetables in rustic fashion and marinate the meat in a delicate blend of herbs and spices. I will prepare a number of dishes of exciting fusion cuisine, adding fresh modern twists to traditional favourites, then separate them into single portions and store them cryogenically in tupperware. I will leave a trail of floury footprints across the tabletop then I will sweep them away and burn the broom.

I will defragment your hard-drive and clear the fluff from the grills at the back of the computer. I will massage the leather of the desk chair with scented oils. I will fish out all the crumbs from the keyboard and polish the keys. I will arrange the contacts in your address book in order of social standing and delete any unsuitables. I will draft emails to people with whom you have lost touch, telling them you might still love them. You might! You might! I will hover over the send button.

I will take in or let out any items of clothing which need adjusting. Tailoring is still a specialty. I will sew buttons onto buttonless items and sequins onto dull ones. I will add lace frills to any smalls or dainties I encounter. I will whistle cheerfully but quietly while I work.

I will fill your fireplace with dried and silk flowers.

I will pull back the covers gently from your sleeping body and allow the night air to get in amongst you. I will whisper suggestions for sweet dreams into your uppermost ear. I will not whisper that thing about Peter Lorre again. I will anoint the backs of your knees with rosewater. I will check for signs of unconscious chafing and apply talc where necessary. A lump of clay! A mere lump of clay! I will watch you breathe.


When the first cock crows I will put everything back the way it was. I will re-ruffle the throws and smear the wine glasses with lipstick. I will unravel the skein of my work, walk backwards out of your presence. There is no room for me anymore. There is no place for me in the house of men. I love you! I love you! I will leave as quietly as I came.

I will place this message somewhere in your dream for you to find and read. I will slip it between the pages of your mind and then I will undo my work. When you are awake, you will never know I have been. But you are not awake yet.

Lee Williams is a writer and teacher from the Isle of Wight in England. A number of his short stories have been published in web magazines. His story, "The Kn!ghts of Slipway Seven" appeared in Issue #30 of The Cafe Irreal and "In the Shipwreck" appeared in Issue #32.