The sign is crackled, white paint flaking glossy dandruff onto the doorstep. It reads THE HOUSE OF DEAD ROCKSTARS in large gothic script. We’ve heard from friends that this place, this strange, uncanny place, has helped them. It’s our last gasp attempt to save our marriage.
Kurt shows us to our room. We can see peeling flock wallpaper through the ragged hole in his head as he leads us up the carpeted stairs. Tiny puffs of dust rise with each footfall and fill the hall with the smell of dead skin.
Our room is lit by a solitary low voltage bulb and the moon, cobwebs hang in the window, semi-transparent like nets, and there’s a rank smell like something expired not so long ago. Prince is sitting on a low stool in the corner of the room, and he jumps up and yells ‘Surprise’.
‘We are surprised’ says Mike, and Prince tells us that he’ll be serenading our lovemaking with one of his dirty little ditties. Mike seems excited by this, but I ask for Starfish and Coffee. It seems more magical, and I think it’s magic we need.
Prince winks and sings, and we make love and Prince screams in harmony as we come, and the sound of his screams solidify and transform into shards of ice which sweep across my skin, alighting every single sensory point, making me shudder and moan all over again. I think, so that’s why he’s known as such an accomplished lover, if he can do that with just his voice. Afterwards Mike shares a cigarette with the Cuban-heeled popstar, and I lie there watching my body turn silver and scaled in the moonlight like a mermaid. I wonder if the magic has worked.
The next morning Prince is gone and so is Mike. Janis brings me thick, black coffee and a letter. The coffee almost masks the chemical stench of Janis’s body, and the letter almost masks the bilious stench of Mike’s cowardice. Janis holds my hand as I cry. Her touch is icy and burns, leaving a livid scorch mark.
“You can stay longer, if you like” she says, her voice a razor’s rasp.
I read the letter over breakfast served by Amy. She’s reeling drunk, a fag hanging from her mouth, grey ash curling like a fingernail towards my overdone bacon and eggs. Mike’s letter is full of the usual clichés – it’s me not you, we were too young, I didn’t know what I wanted. What it doesn’t say is I’m sorry, what it doesn’t say is I don’t love you anymore, what it doesn’t say is I prefer dead rockstars.
Later I play chess in the library with Marc. His head is crushed aluminium and I think he lets me win. It’s good to win sometimes.
Maria Thomas is a middle-aged, apple-shaped mum of two from London. During daylight hours she works in technical control in financial services, a subject so mind-numbingly dull that she spends the witching hours writing. She has had work published by EllipsisZine, Funny Pearls, The Levatio, Fiery Scribe Review, Paragraph Planet, VirtualZine and (upcoming) Free Flash Fiction. Maria won Retreat West’s April 2022 Micro competition. She can be found on Twitter as @AppleWriter.