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Posts Tagged ‘love’

With a pink balloon in one of your hands and a pile of crushed cakes and plates in the other, I ask you where you learned to dance. It’s a moment from Fame, from Cabaret, even: Your face lights up, it’s the question you love to answer. All your life, since a girl, ballet classes, the ribbons, your grandmother, ballrooms, the foxtrot, New York academy, Paris (once), and now a teacher by the sea. I tell you I think you dance beautifully because I know that, sweaty brow, tired feet, eyes smudged, this is what you most like to hear.

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When your wife died, you dug honeysuckle into the edges of your garden. A plant that grew rapidly, soon clambering across the entire fence, strangling your Hibiscus syriacus. It sprouted pale flowers, filling the air with sweetness. How deceptive, the natural world; beautiful yet so fierce, you say. I imagine you at your kitchen window, looking out and thinking, There is only Nature, as there is only Now. Like a kick in the chest. Now. The word itself is inadequate. Keep moving, tidy, eat, see, while the world around you dies, lives and dies again. You hand me my change.

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We’re standing in the lift with you and your Irish husband, who apologises for touching you in public. You missed the evening showing of Billy Elliot and chose dinner, wine, facing each other in your seats instead. It is decided that we’ve all had pleasant evenings, that we like Chalk Farm, that it’s late and as that there’s a tube waiting on the platform, so we should run. Trapped in the closing doors until someone releases me, I think of how blonde your hair is, how dark your skin, your white stilettos and how different your name is from his.

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Because you must see the world from such a low angle, because your face is a smile and because I was full of wine, I start a conversation. You wear a woollen hat, dense red lipstick and grip your handbag. I suppose it’s tough to be so small, I say. Affection and intrigue cram themselves in me, bring with them a racing mind and heart. Inside, I feel like a house slowly regaining power after a black out, the boiler purring to life, the lights hesitating then glowing, the radio shouting from a disaster zone. You say, It is rather.

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Someone has fainted and you leap to help, when a woman stops you with a single finger. Her hair straightened to extremity, thick heavy locks that hang assertively. You try again but she uses two fingers this time to make sure you stay. Seeing this, you understand. It seems you hold out your arms for this dominance and then you take it. Putting it on, it’s like a woollen blanket for you to wrap around yourself. You look at her with such devoted submission. Your mind says, Someone else will help. To your yielding, I may be the only witness.

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With your eyes on me, you say  –  Look, about the other night. Your throat, it might be dry. You’re not sure you should bring this up. A nicer life is one where you only talk about what you have, rather than what you want. We don’t need to do this now, I reply. You: I just couldn’t do it. It didn’t feel right. That’s all. Me: When I’m with you, I experience many different types of emptiness. Maybe none of this happens, or some of it, or hardly. Maybe none of this happens, or some of it, or hardly. I probably just ask for a slice of cake, that one, please.

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You are whispering by the kitchen. I have never heard a person talk so softly. I think you are waiting for something and are scared it may not come. Holding a jar of parmesan, you touch the shoulder of your fellow waiter. In contrast, there’s cutlery and white plates, wine glasses and a coughing fit, someone hammering frantically, desperate to finish the shed, affix the trellis or whatever people do that makes so much noise. This music for the suburbs, this DIY as a percussion solo, this constant sound that hides voices, grabs my throat and assaults my peaceful mind.

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