My Ray of Sunshine / My Side of the Couch

Bea Warren and Ray Fern

Ray of Sunshine

So, I slept with my ex sometime last week. I don’t remember what day, and neither do the five empty wine bottles that we shared on my bedside. All I remember is us watching Sex And The City 2, and being so horrified at the atrocity that was Sex And The City 2 that we needed a respectable outlet for our rage.

It was fine. It was fun. I had only started watching the show once I realized our relationship had fizzled in the first place. I thought I needed to reboot, to see what it was like, dating again in the big city. Admittedly, Brisbane is much smaller than New York, but it’s never felt like that. There’s only so much perspective you can get staring at a television.

That upbeat opening jingle would pop in my head as I finished work—a reminder to stick to the routine. It got louder while I was home, in the kitchen, halving our meal kits and separating vegetables in the crisper, only to find that she had already done that. A little while later she would walk in the door. We weren’t mean to each other, we weren’t aggressive, but our curtains were always closed.

‘Hey, how was work?’

‘Busy, you?’


I clung to that routine like gaffa tape in hopes to remain hidden.

To watch a show about women and dating and fucking with your door open, volume up, ex-partner eavesdropping, felt like a real power move. Her room had the aircon, but mine was confined within laughter, irony, and a cheap Kmart fan. The laughter would push through the fan and travel to her room with that buzzed, robotic effect. She heard when I laughed the hardest. I would force a wheeze whenever I felt a joke in the show was directed at me, making her think that I was comfortable residing in my own insecurities. She knew me better than that. Always did.

One night, she was too tired to cook dinner and waddled into my room, a softened plush toy dangling from her right hand.

‘Whatcha watching?’ she mumbled, trying to sound casual.

‘Just a stupid show,’ I said.

She rubbed her eye with her other hand. ‘Can I come?’

Immediate response.

‘Sure,’ I said, as she leapt onto my floor mattress.

I was halfway through season four. I asked if she wanted to go back, but she didn’t seem to mind. We both found it best to carry on where we were. I always held back, still unsure on how to get comfortable.  That was until I started drinking my way through exam block. Don’t worry, everyone, the GPA is intact (hopefully). But I was too woozy to notice my body shuffling to her side. She was too woozy to notice her body shuffling to mine.

On the last day of uni we binged one season and two feature-length films in the span of 24 hours. We were drunk, tired, and wildly delusional. I know this because when she asked to sleep on the floor mattress, I said yes, and got us both a glass of water to scull before bed.

At 4:45 in the morning, we awoke like clockwork, and were utterly parched. Neither of us wanted to get up. We thought about the movie again and that’s all it took. We took our clothes off with such precision you’d think we were dead sober.

Nostalgia is not something I care to indulge in, especially when it comes to love. If it gets to you, it feels lost forever, just a little memory guarding your heart with all its might, complete with good intentions and poor executions. But the familiarity of her skin, of the speckling of moles along her left arm, the freshly-dyed hair—still poofy, still curly—and the mush of her thighs that she’d never liked, made feeling lost without routine sound fun.

The sun shone through my curtains right after we finished. A small ray peeking its way through my drunken haze. She was already asleep. And as I guided her hand from my bony shoulder to her cushioned pillow, draped with new pillowcases she bought after the breakup, I looked at the ray. Through my window, past the morning dew, I wondered if I should even go back to sleep, stay up to just feel, like she always used to do. The bright light caused her to shuffle and sneer as she muffled and turned over.

‘Could you shut those curtains? I have work in the morning.’

I waited to respond, just to make sure it was the right one.

‘Sure,’ I said, as I shoved my face back into my pillow.


My Side Of The Couch

I slept with my ex sometime last week. For some reason it feels strange to call them that, even though it’s been close to six months since our relationship took its last breath. The transition from partner to housemate was something I never prepared myself for.

We’d been tiptoeing around each other for weeks, our schedules almost never lining up. I couldn’t figure out if it was coincidental or not. Sometimes a few days went by where I saw no trace of them, other than their scrappy pair of converse on the Kmart shoe rack we bought when we moved in together. It was like living with a ghost, one who liked to leave empty beer bottles scattered on the kitchen counter. I didn’t know whether I was avoiding them because I really wanted to, or rather it simply hurt too much to admit to the urge I had to make a cup of tea, curl up in their room and complain about my day.

We both found ways to cope with the silence. Theirs went along to the upbeat tune of the Sex and The City jingle. The sound reached my ears at all times of the day, becoming the soundtrack to my tearful, sleepless nights. Sometimes it was the only indicator that I was sharing this home with another human being. Their strained laughter put up a wall between our two mirrored bedrooms, just a bathroom between us, with our toothbrushes still sitting side by side in the pot. I wondered if they thought their act was convincing. I knew them too well to fall for it; perhaps I always have.

They broke the little routine we had built one night by asking for my help with an art project for an exhibition or something they were a part of. ‘Your handwriting is better.’ I complied regardless of the fact that I had work bright and early the next morning. We cracked open a bottle of cheap whiskey from the bottle shop we frequented down the street, and Sex and The City played out in the background. A show about sex and relationships and womanhood brings about space for good conversation. I felt myself get hooked. Not just on the show – which admittedly was entertaining despite being mostly terrible – but on the comfort of sharing a space.

The next night, sleep deprived once again, and already a few drinks in, I found myself standing in their bedroom door, wearing the matching Christmas pyjamas we shared last year and with a faded stuffed animal dangling from my hand. The familiar laughs of four girls echoed from the television, filling the room. I scrubbed my eyes with the back of my hand, glasses retired for the evening. ‘Can I join?’

They shuffled over on the bed before I could even finish the question, making room on the mattress we used to share. I shook my head when they asked if I wanted to start the season over. I didn’t have the courage to go back to the beginning. We threw ourselves into an entire season, and the two feature length films that followed, along with diminishing nearly a full bottle of whiskey. Time seemed to be at a standstill. I don’t remember much after those final credits rolled, other than sharing a cigarette at some point, and subconsciously closing the gap between us on the mattress. I tested the waters by asking if they wanted me to go to bed. ‘If you want,’ they replied, too casually, refusing to look at me. That settled it.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning, I felt the heat of their hand hover above the skin of my waist, and then make hesitant contact. My eyes were squeezed shut, face buried in the pillowcase I bought after the breakup to escape the scent of them that drowned all my sheets. Their hand paused, and then fuelled by drunk ambition moved again, creeping higher. I fought the urge to open my eyes, to partake in this all-too familiar ritual. What if they regret this in the morning? What if it’s just the alcohol talking? They were so close to me, the smell of cheap bourbon and that same shitty perfume they’ve always used was intoxicating. Entirely overwhelming.

Suddenly it was all too easy—to get eagerly lost in how this feels and mimic the actions of my past; to feel it hit all my tender, cracked spots, like it did a year ago. To play pretend like all the treacherous crap never happened, and to feel it consume me the way the sun on a summer afternoon consumes.

I remember how to do this. I remember what they like. I remember how we fit together.

I don’t remember the aftermath. I remember them tugging me closer. I remember how their hair looked spread out over the pillow, inches longer than the last time we were in this position. I mumbled something about work and sleep and alarms that would go off too soon. They dragged the dusty curtains shut, and rolled over just like they always used to. I knew when we woke up we would simply be housemates again. We would probably pretend this never happened.

Don’t worry.

I will try to stay on my side of the couch.

Authors: Bea is just a silly lil fella. They write a lot about what they see, and the things that happen to them, because they still haven’t figured out a way to put their actual thoughts into verbal constructs. They really like to think they’re cool, with the being part of the underground music scene and whatnot, so please let them indulge in that fact. You can see their work at Ungrained Mag, ScratchThat Magazine, or their Instagram @_rad_boi_

Ray is an arts student living in Meanjin surrounded by stacks of books and a growing family of plants. She is fueled by sleep deprivation and artistic delusion, and has been haphazardly putting words on a page since that day she learned to write her name.

Artist: Cyndra Galea (she/they) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Fine Art’s in Creative Writing with a minor in Professional Communications. When not found with her head in a book or three, Cyndra can be found radioactive antique hunting, fixing classic cars with her dad, drawing on her iPad, or writing and editing her manuscript. Cyndra aims to work as a structural editor when she finishes her Masters of Editing and Publishing, but also dreams of releasing novels of their own.

Editors: Kelly Rouzbehi and Breeh Botsford