Saturday, July 4


THE LETTERS STARTED to arrived a few days after my girlfriend moved out. She was expecting a referral from the local hospital and had asked me to check the postbox every day, as otherwise I am disinclined to checking it at all. At first I thought this letter, addressed to neither me nor my ex-girlfriend, had been an error of the postman, a slip of the hand, seeing as all the flats’ postboxes are next to each other; I checked the address and it was certainly the correct address, my address, but to a name I did not know. Taking the letter, I held it up to the light but could not read the contents. The name: Kristina Grigoryev. Who was she? Until then we had never received someone else’s post. There was no return address, but I scribbled r.t.s. on the envelope and put it back in the postbox.
When my girlfriend moved out, it was a bad time. The days were a grim colour, unkind to me, and so I floated through them morosely. I had believed that I’d found true love and would be happy for a good, long time until my body ceased to work. When she moved out it was very difficult for me to operate without being terribly sad all of the time, feeling detached from my world and imagining all of the people as ghosts.
More letters came. Every day or so, instead of a referral for my ex-girlfriend, there was a letter for Kristina Grigoryev. I began to imagine Kristina Grigoryev and her postless box. She received a catalogue that had an attractive lady on the front in a bikini. So, Kristina Grigoryev bought her bikinis through the post! Times had made me so lonely that I started a small obsession for this stranger, whose letters were filling my flat. When I lay in bed at night my thoughts turned to Kristina Grigoryev and what she was up to, where she was sleeping that night as I turned in my sheets.
One evening I was at my table, the hour still quite young and a lazy haze falling against the glass, when a key turned in the lock and in walked Kristina Grigoryev. ‘Hello darling!’ she said and came up to me for a kiss. ‘How’re you?’
‘Fine,’ I said—‘but why are you walking funny?’
She hoisted up her left foot—‘I’ve got a pebble in my shoe and it’s been killing me for miles.’ She twinkled her toes for me, smiled and emptied the shoe’s pebble onto the floor with a click. She put the pebble in the bin where it clicked again. She removed a beer from the fridge and sat down next to me. ‘I don’t feel like doing anything tonight… let’s get a takeaway… you fancy a chinese?’
I thought that that was an exceptional idea. Kristina was an exceptional young lady with her dress hanging down from the chair like curtains around her nude legs. She kept twinkling her toes and smiling at me; a small red blush on her left foot where the pebble had aggravated her. ‘Did that bikini arrive yet?’ she asked. There was indeed a parcel waiting for her, which I had kept stowed on top of the kitchen units. I gave her the parcel. She disappeared and returned, modeling it for me. Resplendent! I told her how marvelous she looked and bent down to kiss her thigh. We sat back down at the table. It was very relaxing; I was very at ease. We talked & laughed. The takeaway arrived and we both ate well, talking with full mouths and passing dishes to each other. I was so happy when we reclined on the sofa. She allowed me to rub the pebble-mark on her left foot; slightly round, a pink blush, almost invisible but there; no prominent calluses, dainty bones splayed out. The white angular ankle, tight muscles; the smell of summer city dusted about her limbs and sticky.
That morning kiss – I had missed it so much – was the wake-up call at twenty-past six. Around my penis was the spectre of her. Go, Kristina, but come home to me. The stretch of bed next to me was warm when before it had been cool. The days passed quickly, with anticipation for the evenings when we would be together. Kristina & I. As she raised the wine glass to her lips she shooed me away from the stove, to leave the meal to her preparation, her thin fingers hovering over the pot or holding back her blonde hair as she took a sniff from the simmer. Just sitting on the sofa with her left me satisfied, wanting nothing, and all the pursuits of my loneliness became folly. At night we fucked, we made love. Aside the warmth of her back, the vertebrae jutting, I knew that it had been a good day. The smell of her neck, clammy with the perspiration of fuck & sun, sang me to sleep. Every day was good between Kristina Grigoryev & I.
Conversations between us—‘I bumped into an old school friend today,’ she told me—‘And he’s a father now! I couldn’t believe it… a one night stand between him and this Cuban girl!’ We laughed at his misfortune and how enamoured he was with the child because we both thought it was lovely. At the weekends we sat outside of the cathedral and only in silence did we bubble with love. I was happy again.
Time passed. Time affects people and, if one is a particular way, it makes them fall out of love with the other or makes them less lovable. So it was that Kristina Grigoryev fell out of love with me. No more did she laugh at my jokes, or lean in to my touch. The morning kisses grew cold and we did not even make love at weekends. When I walked in through the door she did not meet my lips, and I thought that everything between Kristina Grigoryev & I was dying. It is not easy to watch love die; every day something is taken out of you and buried in the garden.
Finally, she walked out of the door for the last time.
She was expecting a bra to be delivered. It was a lovely bra. She had shown me in the catalogue how lovely the bra was so that I had cause to picture her wearing it. She would have looked divine in the bra and her pink nipples on her pale skin would have barely been visible behind the lace. I thought of sucking her pink nipples through the lace of her bra like I used to, and how she would gasp when I did so. ‘Let me know when the bra arrives, please… I’ll come and collect it.’ I would not see her wearing the bra. Yes, Kristina Grigoryev, I will let you know when the bra arrives. Someone else would see her wearing the bra.
Now in the nights I check the postbox and try to recover the parts of me I lost, alone and staring out of the window. Times are not easy, although I am used to that these days.

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