Lover came round to visit, or rather I met her on the street, crouched over a phonecall she was receiving from abroad. I wasn't sure it was her so I checked before kicking her.
I kissed her while she spoke and lay my shopping bags on the ground.
She said I looked thin and I agreed, there's no getting away from it, eating's been making me sick lately, my nerves just can't handle it.
She helped me with the bags, it was the least she could do, and told me she couldn't stay long. She'd been in my house already for an hour, in my house, for an hour, and I'd been shopping, unaware of her visit.
I bought her a salad, even though I thought I wouldn't see her I bought her a salad. The idea was to have it in the fridge ready so when she came round I could offer it, as if my life was really that organised.
I can't stay, she said.
You can help with the shopping, I said.
She lifted a bag, put her phone in her pocket. She didn't help because she didn't want to, that's why she didn't help. I put on music that she wouldn't understand, began to lay things past, pain in the base of my neck, in my back, from bad posture.
Did you see the fireworks? She'd seen them, it was clear from the question, I didn't want to answer. I had gone with friends, I'd lost them all, I'd lost all my friends trying to find another friend, finding no one. In the end I stood within a group of strangers listening to their radio, watching the fireworks, feeling stupid.
You not hungry? I could have fallen over, the strain of communicating from the kitchen.
I've got to go home and cook, I've got friends coming round.
She invited me. I won't go. I don't want to meet new people, I don't, I don't want to meet new people, there's no time. I've nothing to offer, I
We looked at each other for the first time since meeting, I thought she was going to cry, her bottom lip shook, it didn't tremble, it shook, moved a little, just shook, as if she'd thought about it, decided against it.
She made a pipe and we smoked it. I couldn't speak. I'm tired of myself, angry that there's not more to me than meets the eye. I can't focus so I can't progress. How can I progress if I can't focus? It's impossible, I feel spiritually blank, emotionally whatever, broken.
She made a pipe, we smoked it.
She's no better. Neither of us, neither of us have handled the us as we could have. The us that is us has been a disaster from start to finish. Nobody has taken the lead, nobody has followed. A relationship like a three-legged race with injured legs, strangers bound firmly but out of time.
We've hobbled, we're still hobbling, and stopping might be painful, and maybe there's somewhere to get to, and so on.
But for that there's nothing. We both need, we both need.
Although she's not hungry she eats. I try to follow suit to justify bringing food to the table but I've no real appetite. I feed her much as I would a child and see chewed-up remains in her mouth, chewed-up remnants, things sticking to her tongue like a baby eagle and me the parent.
I know that soon I'll never see her again. I watch her but not intensely. I allow myself to see her but neither want to or don't want to. The futility of the moment, of our inability to take advantage of it, is exhausting.
It's all too much, she said. What's happened to my life? she said. This isn't right, she said.
She'll look old young, that's precisely the nature of her face, old young. I'll not see her. I'll not see her old. I'll not see her old but can see it now, before it happens.
This isn't fair, she said.
I know, I know, I said.
She'll remember me. I'll remember her, I suppose. I know I'll remember her. She'll remember me, I'll remember her. But neither as much as it may seem just now in this moment.
It's distorted, I said. Let it go, I said.
Love without violence, she said, an impossible dream. Is that the door? she said.
I don't think so, I said.
She'll remember me, I'll remember her. Neither as much as it may seem to us in this moment, suspended instant, nostalgia, nothing to write home about.
When it falls apart, well
When it's all said, when it's all been done or not done, as the case me be, three or four stories will remain.