Thursday, March 28

PART VI: Epilogue

‘THANK YOU SO so much for the wonderful note in the book. I do not underestimate it. And you are silly, of course we’ll meet again. You pretty much made this otherwise blah trip.’ …
‘Are you sad, now that she’s gone?’ A silly question, but I gave an equally silly answer – ‘A little bit.’ I got home, drank a glass of wine and went to my room to wait it out. When dinner was served I ate and then went back to my room. It was alone in there, not a thing of the outside world, only my own possessions, on the floor or on the shelf or stacked untidily on my bed. ‘You’re going to bed early.’ ‘I haven’t written in over a week. I have some things to get down.’ I took a bottle of wine with me; no telling how long I’d be up there. I had a few bottles of wine. I would be okay.
A number of photographs to stare at, of her, of course, and enough to last me through the night. To write again was unnerving so I drank a lot of wine and wiped my eyes over and over because they wept occasionally. The smell of her was still on me. Often I would lick my lips, though I had done it so much there was nothing left. Nothing to do but sit and drink and write and listen to my favourite Finnish composer. Even he had his quiet moments; tilting my head this way & that to see if the record had finished.
The photograph is she staring at the lens the photographer staring at someone else staring at me with big dark eyes a photograph her friend took of her on the night we had sex. It had been months since we’d had sex. That was all behind me. I sent myself a postcard from that night.
For a few days I didn’t say much, kept myself to myself, thought a lot.
People at work said to me – ‘You’re more miserable than usual. What’s the matter?’ ‘Ah, nothing.’ At lunch I went for walks, long walks, walks along the routes I had walked with her. I repeatedly doubled back just so I could travel along more of our path. I thought only of her, picking out places of meaning and remembering why they had meaning to me now when before they had meant nothing: that is where we first met (look at the people stood there now!); that is she was waiting; that is where I waited for her; that is where she was telling me about some people in Oxford; that is the bookshop she asked if wanted to go in; that is where she put my hand in her glove with her hand; that is where I got an erection because my hand was on her hand after so long; that is where the wind almost blew us over; that is where we crossed the road. It was pointless, meaningless, torturous – but I had nothing better to do. All I had was to walk those paths and turn things over in my mind. Now that she had fled London I wanted to flee London. I wondered if I would meet another girl just to distract me from Helen. I broke the word down in my head, all its components; five letters six letters, foreign.
Above all I felt tremendously alone because there was no one I would say a word to.
In the evenings I locked myself away and tapped everything out, not giving a damn about anyone ever reading it. It was a relief. In the morning I woke up with a wine hangover and another day of work ahead. Masturbation wasn’t considered anymore. I watched love films and listened to love songs and felt lonely and alone. Everything that we had done together seemed struck from the calendar. It seemed as if it had taken place in the slippery unconscious of sleep, without time or date, a peculiar memory in the gut and fragments returning if and when they felt like it.
I don’t smell of her anymore and neither do my clothes. Sometimes I get carried away and imagine I smell her but it is imaginary, fleeting. The photograph of her is open on my laptop, staring back at me as I write. Her right hand is a blur. Her eyes are black. Her mouth is between expressions. The colours are all very fluorescent.
I’m done writing this now.
This is therapy beyond reason.
Nine thousand words and she is still there. I wrote a hundred words when I first laid eyes on her. There are still thousands left in me.

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