Friday, June 28

Prematurely Fallen

IT WAS VERY bad when I woke up. As I stood in the shower it seemed like I would cry at any moment because I felt, and feel, that everything is useless and unpalatable and I cannot stomach it anymore. Once I emerged I dried my face, my whole awful body, stood to stare at myself in the mirror with toothpaste foam around my thin, pink lips.
On Tuesday a lady sat in front of me on the train. She was perhaps late-thirties. She wore a tight dress as she had a tiny waist. When she sat down in front of me, I thought – ‘She is beautiful.’ She took a book out and started to read. Her hair possessed a curl, a kink, among its deep brown were very fine lines of grey. No ring. I stared at her as I was falling asleep. No ring. I stared at her as she put her fingers into her hair … the next day I sat on the same seat in the same carriage on the same train, hoping, waiting, praying to see her. At her stop an overweight gentleman in bad clothing sat in her place. I held my breath. She showed up, considered the seat, and moved somewhere else. I was disheartened.
No one reads this anymore. My readers have all but ceased visiting and – though it pains me to admit – that affects me deeply. It is one thing to have no readers, but to have had them, then lost them … that is the worst. Instead of writing here, I could be dedicating all of my time to my book. It is pointless, this folly, for other people to read. I told Rebecca about this. She has been there for me, unlike others who’ve said they would be, and told me not to worry about these people. ‘You’re not writing for them,’ and she was right. She told me – ‘If you ditch your blog, I’m ditching mine.’ It was settled at that moment.
And here I am.
He left a day earlier than I thought he would. It was a bad day for me to bid him farewell. I missed the lunchtime party they threw for him because I had to attend a meeting that overran. They took a photograph of him with everyone from the office, only I was not there. I arrived and he greeted me warmly. I felt very upset, so much so that I did not wish to be seen by anyone. I necked a beer, then opened another. ‘Let us go for one last cigarette together.’ I thought I would cry. ‘How silly,’ I thought – ‘to feel like this over something so small.’ When he was saying good-bye to everyone, he left me till last. I prepared myself; incessantly clearing my throat so that my voice would not crack, trying to think happy thoughts; I would miss him tremendously. Finally he came round. I did not wish to stand, for I thought that that would make matters even worse. I am no good with good-byes (with hellos, or with love). We shook hands; he held on very long so that it affected me, and I withdrew somewhat forcefully. He was upset. I was upset. I turned, not wishing to see him go. That was that.
Another friend gone.
And now what? What becomes of the mornings, the misplaced commuting lady, the hay fever, the incessant circle of days, the last minute acts of desperation and scowls thrown at strangers? Am I to suffer this forever? I am so estranged from life. I have come away from the world. I write and my eyes sting when I do so.
My mother – ‘I bought you an extra bottle of wine for when we’re away … have you drunk the others? … you have? You need to watch it.’
‘Bad week,’ I said.
‘It’s always a “bad week” for you.’
There is a tree on the path to the train station that overhangs so that you have to duck as you walk under it. A nest sits in the tree. Last week a fallen chick was on the pavement; dead; its pale blue feathers beginning to form as it shed its infant plumage; its dead eyes closed as ants crawled over its dead body and ate its dead flesh. This week the council came along and chopped off many of the branches so that people didn’t have to duck as they walked underneath it anymore. The nest was taken down with the branches … Along the path I walk there are fallen petals in patches of colour on the pavement. I know what happens: children walk past and something triggers them to snap out at the flowers, sending petal fireworks into the air. Every day this week I see them, a fresh batch on the floor. All the way home, prematurely fallen petals.

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