Thursday, December 5

Something Nostalgic

SUZANNE HAD BEEN loosely folding in and out of sleep in the passenger seat of the heated car. As soon as she had entered its December door, she said—‘Put the heating on, please! … it’s freezing!’ She had even reached across to man the controls herself, aiming all nearby jets toward her. Although it was a sunny winter’s day, the temperature was unbearable to her; the cozy wool of the car comforted her and after not too long of travelling she fell asleep with her fingers sandwiched between her jeaned thighs.
She stirred in the abandoned car in the forecourt of the petrol station. In the distance, the trees were malnourished, pale with grey bark and tiny stubborn leaves ready to dip and fall. Outside the petrol station shop was a large green plastic bucket containing plastic sacks of coal; cheap and colourful flowers shuddered in watery pots; and tabloids stacked in ruffled displays shouted over one another.
She rubbed her slender digits together, trying to start a finger fire. A yawn.
Across the petrol station forecourt walked a young man whom Suzanne recognised immediately, despite the years that held them apart. She quickly sank down in her seat. Collecting her breath, she adjusted herself and tried to regain.
His skin is better. He looks older. Healthier. Some weight under the jaw. She wished I wish that she didn’t have to live so close to where she had grown up; all these chance encounters with old acquaintances! Sometimes specters arose. It was her boyfriend of five summers ago, striding, some would say with an almighty swagger, across the coal flowers tabloid of the forecourt. He reached into his back pocket for his wallet.
She considered this. She considered everything. Pins and needle sadness came over her and she was led, not too difficultly, into nostalgic reverie. Of a sudden, she felt sombre.
All romances end in one way or other, like ice cream they melt, but you either eat the whole thing or drop the cone.
She missed not the love, or him or anything else that he carried upon his shoulders, but the times and the history—the History that was marked with a capital H and was hung over his breast like the flag of a nation. Of course times come and go, she knew, but so many days are worth more than the turn of the small hand.
She saw him and she thought of so many happy, wonderful times (bonfires on the horizon or a wolfhound nuzzling strangers on the underground train).
She didn’t miss the love, but the sound it made when it blew past. Maybe she was in love with the dates—which she knew by heart, and the hours of the day—but the moments had more of a place in her damaged nostalgia than anything else.
Ah—, his name was unimportant because he was a spook, a phantom hung precarious and fluttering in the romantic twitches of her past. So she should move on, and move on she had, but resurrected—as he was on the heady-fumed concrete of the petrol station—she wished that the car would just start up and ride away. Of course other young men had leaned into her life, offered a peck on the cheek, and leaned fro, but this young man (this romance paying for his petrol) had a special chart over the sea of her youthful affections. Suzanne didn’t miss being in love, or that life of colour and joy, but she did miss the times that had been, had gone, and were not to return. If she recalled a memory, it was cyan with sorrow because it was no more, but it had been and, petrol fumes leaking through the window, that would have to do, she supposed. However, that love, catching her, as it did, in the adolescence of her life and when all is being sniffed at with the greatest of enthusiasm, hit her hardest.
She was rejoined in the car; a short blust of wind punched in. She shivered. Her company immediately put the keys in the ignition and dropped a bag of gummy sweets into her lap. She straightened up. She started to open the bag of gummy sweets. The long walks we took around Brick Meadows and the sun setting between the trees. The sun combing the trunks. The summer and the winter, the last laugh of a good-bye. The fast forward five years to a petrol station. ‘I change my mind … let’s go to the forest.’
‘The forest?’ The car fired up and pulled out. ‘You sure?’
‘Yeah, why not? I loved the forest when I was younger.’
She smiled a little, and the sun shifted its position around her so that she had to squint.

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