I've been dating a man who doesn't speak, but as most relationships are text based nowadays, this doesn't seem to matter. I want him to like me so I tell him about the ten day silent retreat I fancied in Thailand. I tell him about the three hour tuk tuk journey there along potholed roads, only to be informed by a white-robed, straggly-bearded man that I was not spiritually ready yet. But my beau just nods and says nothing.
It is peaceful going out with a silent person as we just drift around smiling at each other. We don't argue and we eat our meals mindfully. My beau dislikes noise of any variety and very soon sounds I never used to notice become louder and, eventually, even breathing startles me.
The first night I stay at my beau's place, I hear a loud swish of feathers and a grainy image appears outside the window.
'Cocky,' it screeches and I almost have a heart attack.
'What is that?' I whisper in fear.
'His name is Cocky,' scrawls my beau in his notebook. 'He's a Moluccan cockatoo.'
We try to make love, but Cocky keeps screeching his name over and over and soon I'm in such agony, that I begin to sob.
'Calm down,' writes my beau. 'He's just a bird.'
But all I can hear is 'Cocky, Cocky, Cocky' and a deafening thrum of claws. So I shove in some earplugs and cower under the covers, trembling there till 2 am when Cocky's face looms out of the darkness and I see his little crest silhouetted against the marshy sky.
'This is a nightmare,' I say aloud, but the only one sleeping is my beau.
Mary Thompson lives in London, where she works as a freelance teacher. Her work has recently featured in various journals and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir, Ink in Thirds, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, Flashflood, Ellipsis Zine, the Cabinet of Heed, Memoir Mixtapes, Atticus Review, Spelk, Firewords, Fictive Dream, Funicular Magazine, Ghost Parachute and Cafe Irreal. She is a first reader for Craft Literary Journal.