Sunday, July 30

The Nurse, Part III

It did not matter to me that it was my boss, but on our way back from site we passed a pub and I asked him inside—‘No, I’ve got the physio tonight.’ I told him it did not matter and he said he would see me tomorrow. I went inside where it was quiet; a couple of people in suits and some others working on laptops; it was Monday night and there was nothing going on. The garden was a little noisier but I was able to find a sturdy seat on a large empty table and occupy it for myself. There was some spilled mayonnaise on the wood, which I kept putting my finger in and smearing into circles. I kept to myself, kept my eyes down, and did not hear what was being said around me. When I was younger there were always people who would go out for a drink with me on a Monday night but now I am thirty-one – almost thirty-two – and those people have families with children and so forth, so that I must drink alone. I do not envy them, although I wish they were still around. Let no shade be cast upon them; I wish them well. The mayonnaise was making my finger greasy and I would soon have to stop touching it:
She had told me that a travelling friend was coming to stay for a week, so we would not see each other for a week. It was only a week – seven days, even less – and I was sure to see her again. She hoped her friend would invite her travelling with him, and she would go, without a second thought, she said; gaily wandering off into the sunset, or some such thing, while I cracked almonds in half with my teeth and became nauseous. And why shouldn’t she go off travelling? It was what she loved, and she was quite terrific when she laughed and smiled, which she was sure to do more of while further exploring the world.
I wrote her—‘If you’re friend’s gone by this weekend, you wanna meet up?’
She never responded.
On Saturday it would be good to go for a long walk, so I prepared myself to leave the flat. The sky broke and rain came showering down, bidding I stay inside, but I would not have it, would not spend the day indoors! I went out and felt the rain fall upon me. I headed west.
At moments I would notice the time and think—‘This time last week we were…’ It was not fun to do, and made me feel less than, but I could not help it. What sort of bent mind operates in such a way? I must be some sort of sadistic lovefool. Was she so brilliant that I should torture myself in that way?
There was a camera shop next to the strip-club. A man was polishing a lens when I walked in. Resting the lens on a cloth with utmost delicacy, he approached the counter and greeted me wordlessly, with his eyes. After informing him of what I was looking for, he went to the display case and withdrew the article and allowed me to inspect it while he reeled off its features. ‘I’ll take it,’ I told him. He moved very slowly, which drove me to impatience at first, until I decided to appreciate it, watching his unmarried fingers feed a strap through the catch.
In the café I watched her handsome travelling friend show her photographs on his phone. He had good facial hair and was exciting to be around. He didn’t write meaningless words and he explored the world. He fucked like the Amazon. He was charming and charismatic, had good arms and exceptional hands. The café sold beer so I bought a beer and a coffee (drunk in that order). Through the window the rain came down. Underneath the expanse of a tree’s leaves, the wind changed direction and the water that had gathered there came falling down like an echo. Did she just not wish to see me again? Why not say so? I would not have minded.
It was three-point-six miles to home. If the route was chosen carefully I could avoid the busier streets and not add too great a distance to my journey. It was quite un-July cold, so that to walk at my hurried pace was quite comfortable. Not always looking where I was going, my trainers squelched with puddle-water. This time last week we were… No, I would not think about it! ‘Ah, but this is a good street, we should have come here, she would have liked it. That pub, too.’ Everything became justified as something involved with her.
The following week I drank a lot and wrote, I hoped to see her again. Yes, writing came back to me. Arriving home from work, I showered in cold water and then opened a beer and sat down to write. There was nothing to read; I did not wish to indulge in anything besides how caught up I was in the missing stranger, the nurse. I wrote furiously, ate late, wallowing in my loneliness and her silence. Despite my longing, I felt good about the words I was putting down. The radio static of my skull was tuned to something musical, something lyrical, and I could not put it down fast enough. My routine – for work was also busy – exhausted me, but, look, there was something to show for it; look at the all the words written down.
Tuesday (just gone) I met Rebecca; ‘for one drink.’ We drank long into the night, laughing and moaning. She had just ended a three-year relationship, it was good to talk, to discuss things. We thirty-somethings seek to make love difficult and to make it interesting. Then we go to pubs and hate love, worship fucking, dream of being left alone. It is all very silly.
‘I would just like to understand why she hasn’t spoken to me since. If she don’t wanna see me again, cool, I get that, just fuckin text me saying—“I ain’t interested, cheers” or some shit… I mean, I get it: she’s just got out that long relationship and she was unhappy and now she just wants to meet people. I get that. Crack on. As far as I could tell she enjoyed herself, we had a good time. If she weren’t into me or anythin, she woulda just fucked off early Sunday morning, but we spent the day together again… Now I’m just sitting here wonderin what the hell happened.’
Maybe it was the mystery that irritated me, my uncertain desire to understand what happened.
It could fade, though, and it would fade. It did fade. Maybe she is in another country now, having been invited; passports, plans and aeroplanes. It would be good to see her again, because, after all this nonsense, I really did enjoy her company. Some people are only in your life very briefly.
Okay, I’m done.

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