Like lavender she is suited to extreme conditions, expert drainage and the appreciation of a romantic’s nose. She considers a rose to be a tentative gesture: petticoats of veiled ham to crispy blisters in approximately seven days. Sorry I can’t be more specific. She struggles to see the worth in a week of unrivaled beauty when sustained elegance is an option. Lavender is robust, imbued with centuries of sentiment and, most reassuringly, is not to everyone’s liking. Her mother, for example, thinks it so terribly old-fashioned.
He suggests a lamb dhansak, one eye surfing the crest of a goal-bound strike. She claps a hand to her mouth, repulsed by the image of the threads of her vascular system coated in lanolin. She acknowledges the coupling of lanolin and lavender oil in soap making – the compact block on the corner of an elegant basin, but the word emollient pervades, thick and white and unscented. (With a damp cloth, she removes the bird shit and generic grime from the plastic washing line; this is her equivalent of pinging an elastic band against a wrist as an aid to curbing destructive thoughts).
He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, interpreting her gesture as an indication of his need to cleanse his palette, and withdraws from the host (primary or intermediate – he remains undecided). She reaches for a stray vest and spreads her naked self with its insufficient spill. She deliberates the word parasite, but opts for pathogen, not wishing to appear unnecessarily hostile.
Rebecca Hattersley is a London-based writer. Her words have featured in literary publications, both print and web. She is currently at work on her first novel, and runs a small design studio with her partner. Read more of her writing at ifindyoucurious.co.uk.
horizontal transmission was originally published in 3:AM Magazine in July 2013.