He reaches for his glasses to switch on the morning; surrounding his bed is a sea of faces, none of which he recognises. Squat on the windowsill, tucked behind the curtains, snaking out onto the landing: faces faces faces. He takes off his glasses, rubs his eyes, lies back down and attempts to shake off the dream. His eyes open again to blurry shapes on the bedroom ceiling; some floating, some clinging to the light fitting. Glasses on, and a blink of recognition – that face is familiar, and that one, but he cannot, without context, place either one. He mentally sketches the face of yesterday’s supermarket cashier, the postman, the man he sat opposite in the pub. No. A knot of faces, smiling widely, leaps from round the bedroom door and settles at the end of his bed. The smiles rest their eyes on him, lack of pyjamas and all, but do not speak. He doesn’t feel afraid, instead finds a warm sensation blanketing him, so when another more timid few join the group, he finds himself smiling back at them. By the window, new faces have joined those he woke up to – he spots more that he recognises: an elderly lady in a plum scarf, a lad with heavy eye make-up, a ginger cat. Emboldened by the many smiles, he pulls on some trousers and makes his way out of the bedroom and downstairs. On the stairs only one face, set in a scowl. He shuffles past, avoiding contact. The hall is packed with yet more faces; many smiling, many hovering expectantly by the front door, several flattened against the walls, indifference giving them all the same mask. He heads cautiously towards the kitchen, where he smells burning and sees Mark through fog. Mark butters a slice of toast, checks his phone then silently hands him the outline of a small grey heart.
Marie Little (she/her) lives with her husband, three boys and a very silly cat. She used to teach; she now pretends to be a robot/monster/sock and drinks tea from buckets. Marie has work featured/forthcoming in: Ink Sweat & Tears, The Cannon’s Mouth, Cool Rock Repository, Anti-Heroin Chic, Re-Side, Gastropoda and many more. @jamsaucer