My wife was always hot in bed. I don’t mean hot like a porn star, or that flexible waitress you met in Greece in your gap year, I mean hot like a trouser press or a steam iron. I could have fried an egg on her if I wasn’t ovo-intolerant; sleeping next to her was pretty much impossible, unless you happened to be a lizard.Ljudmila said the problem was mine. ‘It is you who is COLD,’ she told me, in the Latvian accent which had first attracted me to her on the premium rate phoneline. “Cold like heart of eel, like soul of child murderer. Or mortgage advisor.”Eventually, I persuaded her that, for the sake of our marriage we should go and see a specialist (you can find all manner of medical expert if you look hard enough on Gumtree.)And so, one drizzly Monday morning, we met Dr Feldhausen at his consulting rooms above the minicab firm. I was reassured by the framed diploma on the wall behind his desk, although I struggled to make out the name of the issuing organisation, printed at the bottom in 8-point Comic Sans.Dr Feldhausen asked Liudmila to take all her clothes off and then suggested I go and wait in the corridor outside, or maybe that laundrette around the corner or, you know, wherever.When I returned, both he and my wife were slightly ruddy of complexion and a touch breathless; he had evidently given her a thorough going-over.The results, though, were inconclusive. Dr Feldhausen frowned and suggested he come over that same evening in order to measure Liudmila’s temperature as she slept. I was impressed by his determination to get to grips with my wife’s infirmities and told him so. He smiled enigmatically. (Like so many modest men, I think he was uncomfortable with praise.)That night, as I lay on the hard sofa bed in the cellar, wondering what the muffled banging and screaming noises coming from upstairs were, I prayed that tomorrow would bring the end of our troubles.Sadly, my prayers went unanswered, as did her mobile the following day. I discovered she’d left me, taking all my money and clothes and pets and furniture and valuables, and citing unreasonable behaviour on my part.But I still miss her and sometimes even now, when I’m propped up in bed at night with the laptop, I’ll go to her Instagram feed to see what she’s up to. In a recent post, she was lying topless on a beach somewhere tropical. Sitting on the sunbed next to her with a cocktail was Dr Feldhausen. I gasped. Of all the people to bump into on holiday!I smiled, closed the laptop and rolled over to kiss Andželika goodnight. Her porcelain skin was freezing to the touch, and I knew in that moment – even though we’d only met an hour earlier in the morgue — she was the woman I wanted to share my bed with forever.
Tim Craig lives in Hackney in London. In 2018 he won the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction and has also placed third — and been commended — in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. His short fiction has appeared in the Best Microfiction Anthology 2019, the New Flash Fiction Review and the BIFFY50.