Monday, January 30

Her Bones

MY MOTHER told me—“You’re not passionate about anything.” She said it all innocent and serious.
“Not for everything, yeah, but for some things I’ve got passion dripping out my arse!”
“All right, don’t get upset.” She continued on eating. So did I.
We had been discussing my appraisal at work where my boss had asked me if I were passionate about it. I told him that I didn’t think so. He asked me—“Well, do you take pride in your work?” “I try to do things right. If something’s going out with my name on it then I like it to be right.” “What about if you do something wrong?” “That really fucking pisses me off. Like last Wednesday when we reviewed that job and it was all fucked up—that really makes me angry and upset. I don’t like to fuck up,” I told him. “Well, then,” he said. I asked him—“Would you call that passionate, then?” He nodded.
Anyway, we had been discussing that at the dinner table. It was good to eat with them again because I had been working late and wasn’t getting home until nine and by then the table was long cleared. There are things happening in my life that are beyond my control but work was not one of them so, I suppose, I immersed myself in it. I took the later train home, with only a humorous Twain for company and good-looking girls who eat crisps that smell of crispy bacon while jotting down illegible things in journals; then I was a little infatuated—only then.
My dog was at my feet licking her legs. She’s been doing it for months. The vet told my mother that the cancer had finally worked its way into her bones and that is why she licks her legs. She is licking her bones. The white fur on her legs has grown patchy with pale pink. “The cancer is very aggressive,” said the vet “she only has a few more weeks.” My mum cried.
The week drew a lot out of me, but most painful were my words. It all started last Friday and since then I haven’t felt much like getting anything down. I was supposed to go stay
with a girl for the weekend but I did not feel like that, either. I knew that she would make me smile and laugh and that she would put me at ease but, for some reason, I could not bring myself to be with her nor anyone else.
Instead I went into town and spent some money on books and music and a late birthday present.
It was Friday, kicking out time for the schools. I sat outside a caf’ and watched the kids walking through the streets in their uniform. It was too cold for the other punters so I was good and alone out there, warming my hands between my legs. The coffee steamed up. Inside were people talking and it was interesting to watch them. A man sat with his young child; he helped him lift a small paper espresso cup to his lips; and when he pulled the cup away the young child had a moustache and I grinned. It looked very warm in there, golden, safely browning as, outside, it dried up and turned black.
Then on Saturday I walked to the local pub at the bottom of a hotel. The clerk said to me—“The other bar’s open.” “You not serving at this one?” “Oh, I am, it’s just everyone always comes in here asking if the other bar is open.” “Nah. Here’s fine.” “You like the quiet?” “Yeah.” I got my order and took it to the sofa by the window. I was the only customer. Sometimes people came to check-in to the hotel. They went up to their room. I convinced myself that while I was sitting there reading in the wimp light of the cold afternoon, there were people ruffling well-made beds upstairs. I do not know why. They were all fucking. In my head, they were all fucking.
In the distance were thick clouds hanging over the pier the colour of car tyres. I was feeling a little drunk when I walked home. The wind came along fierce. There were people walking dogs. The sun was almost down, but not quite. It simmered in wet yellow over the shoulder of the clouds and did not sink until after I arrived home.

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