Sunday, February 22

The Shine and Flower Wheeze

THE FLOWERS THAT I bought her were left on the table – she cooed from the sofa, unwell – before I cut them down to size and placed them in a cafetière with water. Her favourite flowers: sunflowers. The flowers were good quality and they shone the colour of sun in the bleak February winter, beneath the window, beside the fruit bowl. That was the first day; valentine’s day; we did not make love but fell asleep.
The next day we went out for a walk, from Gloucester Rd, through Kensington and then on to Victoria where we ate dinner beside a Christian couple who were on a date after having been at church all day. She talked; he listened. When we left, she walked five yards ahead of me all of the way, causing me to think that I had done something to upset her. I sprained my ankle trying to keep up, deep lances of pain shot up my leg and I hurried to catch up with her. That evening I watched an Irish film and she played on her phone.
The week passed as it always does, unremarkable and boring. I continued to go for long walks at lunchtime Рcome rain or shine Рto think very hard about my life and how unhappy I am. I wonder if spring will bring any happiness. (What do you have in store?) Already the mornings are brighter. If spring hurries, I would be most grateful. I smile at the small buds that break out the brown bark of the twigs overhanging my pavement path. The sunflowers were there in the evening, shining, not showing any signs of wilting. Bright and yellow they stand. The colour of them goes well with the chrome cafeti̬re they sit in.
Every night she goes to bed early, just before ten and before I am tired. We have forgotten how to make love. I try to write but I cannot – and now I cannot! – so I go to bed, frustrated and close to tears. In the morning I wake up again and do it all over. I look out for dear friends; the windows vacant. Sentences drift into my morbid mind, they disappear and are never seen again. Aim to take the city and squeeze its juice into your mouth. Aim to be invincible. Aim to be enlightened. Aim to be a better person who does not snore, keeping people awake. Aim for Isaac Babel. Aim for all the Russian masters in their cold, cold graves.
Thursday night she goes from happy to unhappy in a moment because I did not tell her I was eating leftovers from a previous night. Fortunately, I have one beer left. The sunflowers are still standing, as ripe as the day I bought them for her, when she was unhappy then and unhappy now; it is I who makes her unhappy, it is I and the sunflowers.
Friday night I go to town and get drunk. It is a good evening with many drinks. She is on the sofa and we chat while I eat. She asks that I sleep on the sofa as she is tired and my drunken snoring will wake her. (Upset sleep and waking multiple times, however my favourite cat is next to me, in the V of my legs, dripping with warmth.) I check on her when the sun is up and she invites me into bed. She shows me her bald cunt. I had forgotten how perfect it was, having not seen it for months. She tells me that we should start writing erotic fiction to each other again. We have a lovely morning in bed, before I go to the shop in my pyjamas to buy eggs and tobacco. We spend a wonderful day together around Lincolns Inn Fields, staring at babies in jars and sloth foetuses. In a crowded bar in Soho she buys me a delicious cocktail and things are good. She often outstretches her hand to touch me and I am dazzled by her affection. This is it, I think, and I am happy like no other. I could set sail on such times and leave my ratty fortune to the cats. All the joy I could hope to contain is bursting from me when she simply stares at me across the tube carriage.
But then we get home and I say something that upsets and angers her. She goes to bed without kissing me a good-night. I drink the beer I bought her. The day is ruined. All of the love that had built inside me crumbles and I am bereft. That is the last time I see the sunflowers. In the morning, all of a sudden, they have wilted.
I have become neither the person I thought I was nor the writer I wished to be, so at the empty train station I move from under the shelter into the rain, waiting for the headlights in the dim mist to hit my ankles.

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