“Hugo’s Private Space,” by Brenda Anderson

Aug 20th, 2014 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

The ladder wobbled. Hugo reached for the climbing rose, lost balance and whump, landed on something firm but invisible several feet above the lawn. His secateurs landed beside him. Stunned, he looked around.

Birds still sang. Flowers bloomed. The cat slunk past. Nothing had changed, except his back garden had grown an invisible surface four feet above the lawn and one step from the ladder. Well, half step. He stood up and practised stepping back and forth. Both surfaces held. Hugo couldn’t believe his luck. Could this be the private space he longed for? Unbelievable.

With an effort, he dragged his favourite chair and Persian rug up the ladder onto the surface, and arranged them to face the setting sun. On the lawn below, the same cat strolled back again, oblivious. Hugo relaxed. If the cat couldn’t see him, no-one could. That left his wife. If only he could invoke protection against her. Wait. In school he’d learned about the Romans and their household gods. Of course, this wasn’t exactly a household, more a space. Well, a half space. He needed a god of the half spaces.

He cleared his throat. “Are you there, god? Come in, god,” he said. Pathetic. If only he could remember the right invocation.

A dim light sputtered into existence. Hugo’s heart skipped a beat.

“Welcome,” Hugo said. “Please, I need your protection.”

The half god flickered. “Can you be more specific?”

“I want this space sealed against my wife,” said Hugo.

“Mmm. She’s already suspicious, you know. You keep disappearing. At first she thought you were having an affair.”

“What?” said Hugo. “No, no. It’s just that sometimes I like to be alone.”

“Relax,” said the half god. “The private investigator she hired gave you the all-clear. Now she thinks you’ve joined a cult.”

What?” That his wife even knew the word came as a surprise. She despised private clubs of any kind.

“Believe me,” said the half god. “She stormed into the local church and demanded answers. They said that very few cults held invisible meetings in back gardens, but they’d look into it. They hinted that if she joined their church, they’d put more effort into helping. She joined on the spot. That was a week ago.”

Hugo started to sweat.

“Listen,” said the half god. “The ladder.”

Hugo swung round, just as his wife stepped onto the Persian rug. The late afternoon sun highlighted her see-through nightgown, ample curves and breasts. She clapped her hands around the half god’s dim light, which went out. For a long minute husband and wife looked at each other. For once Hugo didn’t mind this invasion. This time invasion felt good. Oh yes. Definitely. Better than good.

“Hugo,” she said with a pout as she bent down to smooth a wrinkle in the mat, “I’m lonely. I need company. Come here, bad boy.”

Hugo came.


Defenestration-Generic Female 02Brenda Anderson’s fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways, Alternate Hilarities, Punchnel’s, and Penumbra. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Find her on Twitter @CinnamonShops.

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