Wednesday, October 21

Resurrection, But By Accident

SHE STOPPED TALKING to me on the nineteenth of October, just as everything was becoming noticeably more autumnal, with those encroaching nights and the air’s smoky smell. The last thing she said to me was—‘You’re as difficult as I am, but in a different way.’ Hmm, she was sure to destroy me. Her last send-off! If I had known they were the last words for me out of her seahorse lips I would surely have asked her to talk a bit slower. As it was, I received nothing more.
During such times, it is one’s only desire to lock themselves away. So I locked myself in my flat, feeling quite sorry for myself and making efforts to keep the place as clean as I could: loading & unloading the dishwasher, sorting out old clothes, washing fruit, working my way through bottle after bottle of wine and looking out of my window at the streets down below. It was strange: framed by my window, the outside world seemed very distant to me, as though it were a picture-book and I some curious child. I watched the gangs strutting hither & thither, and the midnight lovers walking their dogs on the only patch of grass around. It was a pleasant enough pastime.
On the third day I needed eggs for an omelette I had planned for dinner. For this I would have to leave my flat. An unnerving prospect.
After the summing-up of courage, I opened the front door to find flowers surrounding my doorstep.
There were perhaps eight bouquets of flowers: mostly yellow and white. I crouched down and looked at one of the pieces of paper tied to a bouquet—‘Rest in peace, darling. You shone like no other.’ I did not know what to make of it. The handwriting was my mother’s.
‘Thanks for letting me borrow all your Otis Redding CDs.’ That was my brother’s handwriting; a mishmash of upper- and lowercase characteristically chiseled angrily into the card with a biro.
There were three candles, too, erect and wobbling like drunkards on their white wax podiums.
I stepped over the three candles and the eight bouquets and went down the cornershop. The man in there never says hello to anyone. He is an unhappy man with his thin, black hair gelled back and all the comb-teeth running through it like fish. I bought the eggs and went back home. The candles were burning brightly. There were photographs of me amongst the flowers. One of the photographs was of me with my first family dog; I was aged only two and the photograph held a fondness for me, I remembered it from years gone, so I took it inside and stuck it on the fridge. The omelette was not very good.
The next day there were more flowers, all of them tagged with labels requesting politely that I rest in peace. I kneeled on the floor and read through them all. One of tributes was from my neighbour—‘To R—, we hardly knew ye.’ I had seen my neighbour once and he was picking from a bag of popcorn, quite uncomfortable at being caught doing so when we bumped into each other one Saturday afternoon. Another bouquet was a lone sunflower – if a single flower is still a bouquet – and its tribute read—‘Thank you for teaching me to love myself.’
Another—‘You were the best fuck I ever had.’ An interesting note indeed! I smiled and took it into the flat with me. Compliments such as that must be framed and handed down to the grandchildren. Although her handwriting I could not pinpoint. Did mediocre sex affect one’s cursive? I contemplated this while I sprayed the succulents on my windowsill.
So her not talking to me must have been the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. A terrible ending, certainly, but death? I thought not. Surely I was dead, though, and many were mourning me. Imagine those neighbours of mine, groaning as they step delicately over the flowery mess afore my front door—‘I dunno why they have to leave the flowers here!’ ‘O, for fuck’s sake, show some sympathy!’ Through the door their voices came, a flickering reminder of my life, all tender and veiled.
I stayed indoors for a while longer; I could not tell you how long because all of time became incessant and immeasurable, however the flowers and memorials built up. The smell of decaying flowers creeping underneath my front door became overpowering. Waking up drove me to nausea; my first breath of the day clogged in the sickly sweet smell of dead flowers. Family, friends and colleagues all came to pay their respects, leaving flowers and gifts to someone who, in their mind, was no longer alive. My friend Aaron brought my cafeti̬re from the office Рmarked rather faintly with my initials Рand left it at the door. My grandmother left a box of Scrabble for me, after all the afternoons we whiled away together, attempting to defeat the other. My uncle left a small statue of the Virgin Mary; she was dressed in blue, that most sacred of middle age colour, brought from the Middle East. I brought the Virgin Mary inside, figuring she may get cold out in the corridor.
Eventually, although I had not noticed it, I no longer thought of her, she who had stopped talking to me. I remembered her name and many things about her, but the insides of her that came out in our evenings together were hard to recollect. That is when the flowers and memorials started to slow. It became a bit easier for me to walk over the threshold of my flat. Each day brought a bit less sorrow, and life, as the bearable string of events and flatness it was, reemerged. Finally I did not even remember the way she held my gaze or her quiet laugh or even the way she captivated me in every single sense. No, she had become uninteresting to me, and, at last, I spent a whole waking day not once thinking of her.
The next day I went to work and no one ever laid a flower at my door again.

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