Small Spaces



You pointed at the students outside the library and complained their chatter rose and filled the apartment like steam. I said the apartment had charm but did not say what we knew; you would not be around to hear the noise during the day. I swept my arm at the blue wall-to-wall carpet that flowed like an endless sea and goaded you to take in the view of the lake.

“It’s doable,” I whispered.

“But you don’t have a job . . .”

Those six words imprisoned my mouth.

Therefore, we rented the other apartment. The front door opened into the living area, which opened into the kitchen, which opened into the sleeping area. The bathroom was an afterthought of clever masonry, tacked to the right wall of the sleeping area and cordoned off with a curtain that reminded you of Joseph’s coat of many colours.

We squashed our belongings into the interstices the landlord called rooms, but we could not squeeze our personalities past each other. When I turned, I bumped into you. When you turned, you bumped into me. And so a hurricane brewed.

The problem with your invitation to that argument was not our disparate points of view, but my overwhelming desire to win at something, anything, and the knowledge that I could. You bade me sit, so that neither of us had comparative height advantage.

We had agreed that we would always start with bad news and end on a high note by delivering good news last. But you reversed the order. I hardly heard your praise because it was as short as a one-minute foreplay. Your accusations were long and resembled the leading questions attorneys ask in American soaps, stunning the defendant and then finishing with, no further questions, Your Honour.

I adjusted my frame on the narrow bed, one of two pushed together. Small spaces should have sparked chemistry not tension between us. Was it too late? I rehearsed my new strategy: be quiet, don’t try to win, acquiesce, and retreat. No matter what happens, do not win this argument.

“On the charge of not rinsing my teacup and plate after coffee and donut, I plead guilty Your Honour.” I smiled, “I am very sorry.”

I saw the dilemma in your eyes. You had not expected to win in this manner, closing arguments defused. So, I pled with you, “Let it go.”

Instead, you looked at the window, which we opened with fear because the broken glass mocked the sellotape that held it in place. You stood and stabbed me in the thighs and buttocks but excess flesh dulled your blade. Then you selected a garasuki knife, those six words, which imprisoned my mouth, and plunged it into my heart, twisting for good measure.

I reacted from the gut. My words were like arrows with poisoned tips. They were so many your shield gradually slipped. Then weak and bleeding, we both staggered to the ground.

“Words matter. You should know,” you coughed and spat.

I knew. My six hundred unpublished pages lay on the table.

“Bloody hell! No one should attend an argument after only three hours of sleep, two coffees, and paracetamol,” I gasped.

You laughed and I laughed.

But that summer, for the first time, you only paid your share of the rent.  Then you moved to the first-floor apartment opposite the library. The one you said we could not afford.


©Timi Yeseibo 2015


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31 thoughts on “Small Spaces

  1. Small spaces shift small graces
    Small teacups hold storm places
    Small fights, small battles, small wars
    Small hearts, small more patience
    Small wins, maybe small victories.

    Absolutely no idea why I thought to do a poetry response to this post. A lot to read in all the comments too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The bathroom was an afterthought of clever masonry…

    My brain did flips at that one. So good.

    You bade me sit, so that neither of us had comparative height advantage.

    So that is why people tell me to sit before we talk.

    “Bloody hell! No one should attend an argument after only three hours of sleep, two coffees, and paracetamol,” I gasped.

    I read this to mean it wasn’t ‘her’ plan to use the arrows with poisoned tips, which would have been the smart thing to do. Like the Yoruba’s say, “No one investigates the cause of a father’s death without the hand firmly on the hilt of a sword.”

    Two successive fiction posts. Thank you.

    You know what Oliver said…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, we don’t like the other party towering over us during arguments, do we?

      Hmmm, I guess if you’re not paying rent in cramped quarters, it is wisdom to not win “the argument.” 😉

      Arrows with poisoned tips, garasuki knife; why do we bring such deadly weapons into the arena?

      @Two successive fiction posts, thank you so much for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Words & Space really do matter. Especially in a relationship which is already being held by sellotape. And I think artists (whether they call themselves writers) need more spaces, so they don’t feel like they are being holed up.
    Having a struggling partner who is still trying to ‘make it’ is another emotional roller coaster.
    So, all in all I think the relationship was doomed from the day they got to that apartment

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this story, but I guess at the end they decided it was best to split up. Just goes to show you how complicated relationships are. And space, yeah, like you, I need it – not optional. Great topic with lots of extra rooms to explore 🙂


    1. Small spaces remind me of pressure cookers. When the heat is turned on, it reveals what’s inside. Sometimes what’s inside isn’t nice… maybe that’s our cue to change.

      Thanks Val. I’m glad you liked the story. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Timi,

    Fragments of disintegrating relationships, piece-by piece-by piece…

    “I am very sorry…” I was amused by how stumped he/she was when she/he didn’t react in the manner he/she was expecting. It clearly threw him/her off and gave me an almost naughty rush of pleasure.

    Financial security is the white elephant, breakdancing energetically in the middle of the room, that not everyone likes to acknowledge as a maker/breaker in relationships, It reminds me of the joke, “No romance without finance.”

    I find that waiting for seemingly elusive achievements to happen sometimes causes disillusionment, and we can only hope that our dear ones are a little more patient with us at those times when our Hyde overpowers our Jekyll. 😀

    Life happens, we learn, we move on.

    I enjoyed reading this, have a lovely week!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There’s something about looking for a fight and having strong arguments in your arsenal, only to be deprived of the ‘wicked’ pleasure of discharging your weapon(s) that doesn’t sit well with us I guess… And who knows if the response before the I’m sorry- ” …. I plead guilty Your Honour,” did not in some measure trivialize the accusations? 🙂

      Lol@ no romance without finance XD … Money matters; money matters.

      I enjoy how you deliberately refuse to assign gender to the characters. Behind the scenes, I’ve been enjoying hearing my friends and family assign gender to the characters, and even go ahead to flesh out the characters: 2 young graduates, a married couple, etc.

      We read through filters bringing the weight of our experiences to bear on stories.

      Yes, financing someone else’s dream can be ‘expensive’ business.

      Thanks Nedoux!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Lovely post. I like the relative anonymity of the characters in the story.

      Hmmm, this relationship thing.

      “Financial security is the white elephant, breakdancing energetically in the middle of the room, that not everyone likes to acknowledge as a maker/breaker in relationships,…”

      I love this Nedoux!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Indeed words can hurt. But one of the most frustrating things in the world is supporting a creative artist before his/her big break.
    It would seem like all they do is lounge around the house while you work hard.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Adaeze, I see you picked up on that. It would seem that the apartment was not the only small space. There was small space in the characters’ hearts to accommodate one another- many undercurrents of tension that erupted over not rinsing plate and cup!

      Yes, words can hurt, ouch! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Small spaces can stress the best of relationships! Believe me this year in an apartment with him working from home now after 56 years of lots of neutral territory for each of us to enjoy as our own space has been a whole new challenge. Reality is you never can stop learning to love in new ways.
    But that’s a good thing….because that’s the purpose of life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Must be quite the adjustment for you both. I really like what you say:

      “…. you never can stop learning to love in new ways.”

      Personally, I need space: physical, mental, emotional, etc … plenty of it. I cannot imagine turning and bumping into another person every time … 🙂 So, your words make me see it’s important to learn to adjust to some degree to the changing circumstances of life.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, you’re likely to have less self-control and react in ways you may later regret. Walk away … if possible ….
      @affording the apartment, maybe “he” always had the money, but didn’t want to bear the cost alone until push came to shove? 🙂


  8. Is this the story of two friends falling out?
    Words do matter. I’ve had to sheath my sword too many times so peace reigns.

    Good story, Timi.


    1. Yes, it’s a story about 2 “friends” falling out.
      I think that if we have better mastery over our verbal and non-verbal cues, we’d enjoy our relationships better.
      Kudos to you for knowing when to pull back and being able to execute it 🙂


      Liked by 2 people

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