We have an idea of goodbyes

I am watching the coffee stain my fingers as you lay dying on the gravel.

It is a morning of bright blue promise. The breakfast show host is laughing at his own joke and I smile at the television without hearing the punch line.  Next up a story on how most women do not wear the right size bra. I feel my left breast, it seems perfectly at home within its wire cup as my elbow knocks the coffee jar to the floor.

The crack of glass against tile – is this the moment the knife plunges through skin and muscle? When I bend down are you sinking to your knees as 6-inch metal severs vessel from vein? How is it that I do not feel a thing as I sweep the granules of coffee from the floor? How do I not struggle for breath as blood pools around the blade and the sky floods with red? As your body makes its last struggles at life and I watch water turn to rust on my fingers – how is it that I do not feel anything at all?

You went for an early run along the river. I did not even know you were here. I have stopped wondering where you are; as we each greet the day I am unaware of your proximity. It has taken me three months to stop looking for you everywhere. I would normally be by your side on a morning like this.

The moon must still be out when you start off, determined to hold back the day. They say you came across them arguing, that as you approached you saw him grab her by the hair. You have never forgotten the woman next door, the one you didn’t save, and I know you would have seen in this an offer at redemption.

Did you yell at him to stop, did you barrel forward and push her out of the way? I can see you running, see you in those last solid moments. Striding along the gravel track, side-stepping ducks and over-hang. And then the bridge, where they are. But here it stops.

I know he followed her. I know he had been watching and waiting for weeks, building his anger on her absence. She was running too, the other way, when he found her. And you got between them. You put your body between the trembling woman and this raging man. A shove, a punch – he will say you provoked him. You struggle, the yelling attracts runners above on the bridge, but it is too late when he reaches down, when he plunges in. Self-defence he will say, but you never left a mark as the thrust destroys the delicate machinery of your heart. She is screaming at him to stop. She will need stitches to the slicing of her hands as she tries to save you. But the force of his anger has found a target, and a lifetime of loss and misery reduces yours to a final minute.

And then he is the one to run, as you breathe out blood and she tries to stop you up. You lay in this woman’s arms, a stranger covered in your blood as she screams over your silence. By the time the sirens can be heard you are dead on the ground. I do not feel a thing.

We have an idea of goodbyes. We will run alongside a train until the platform gives out. We will stay in each other’s arms until they tear us apart. We make linoleum cathedrals of hospital rooms – we hold hands through tubes and machines, we stay next to the bed all through the night. We fix our eyes on that plane as it taxis away – we wave at the hand in the small window because it just might be you and it doesn’t even matter because until you leave the ground you are still here, you haven’t really gone away. Even when the plane takes flight and our insides fall, we keep looking up. We swear we can still see your hand pressed against the window, right until we can no longer make out metal from sky.

We have an idea of goodbyes. We are supposed to be present in the final moments. We are supposed to know what is happening to us, and how. As we part we are meant to feel the potent chemicals of loss take hold, to feel the ache of separation flood through our veins. We are meant to realise the tragedy of our ending.

How is it possible that I did not feel a thing?

Joanne Piechota image at body, remember

The above is an extract from body, remember that I am taking a deep breath and sharing for the first time today. Thank you for reading!

Image by Joanne Piechota at Little Expeditions.

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10 thoughts on “We have an idea of goodbyes

    1. Thanks muchly Theo. Every so often I will put bits of the actual manuscript out (but god it’s scary!!). I really value your feedback x

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