Impact

If I could just know. That it hurt you a little. That this collision left us both with scars. If I could just know that there were cracks all over and I made it through. Once. Just once would be enough.

If I could just know that I am not the only one with bruises. That you stumble over breadcrumbs too (and when you hit your head it hurts your heart). Once. Just once would be enough.

If I could just know that there are words you too have not sent, and truths you have not spoken. If I could just know that silence has never, ever meant consent. Once. Just once would be enough.

If I could just know you felt something. Anything. I crashed against you for years. I shattered in your arms over and again. Is it possible you held me in pieces and felt nothing at all?

When once – just once – would have been enough.

Image by Joanne Piechota

A whole book was hidden in your silence. For that I suppose I should thank you.

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Here we are (revisited)

And tides ‒ they turn ‒ and hearts disfigure
But that’s no concern when we’re wounded together

Unexpected intimacy. You take my hand and we dance. It is my favourite song and you sing in my ear, you get the words wrong and it makes me laugh. We are lighter than we have ever been – for these 5 minutes and 38 seconds we are any couple in any place in any kind of love.

I am in some kind of wonder. In my arms you are fully present. You are here. Here we are. The entire world is contained in our pressing palms. All the little bruises disappear in those 5 minutes and 38 seconds. And always, after, I wish I had played the live version, how we could have had an extra two and a half minutes of this beautiful mess. But we have 5 minutes and 38 seconds just the same.

**

If I ever wrote any truth – if I ever lived it – here it is. Here we are. I would do it all again for just this moment. To feel and to know. What a beautiful mess this is.

Library

If it is the truth that sets you free, then I have bound us together. I have archived our secrets and our stories, created a library of our lives. The past – yours, mine, hers – is preserved within the maps and pages of my body now. There is ink under the skin where the truth has seeped in and sealed over, where I have swallowed entire histories – yours, mine, hers – in order to better protect them.

There is something sacred in the keeping of such secrets, don’t you think? How it gives sanctuary to our every days, our here we ares, our this and now. These little lives that would not survive the smallest of our revelations. I have contained and constrained the truth for this, to let us all get on with better lies.

Yours, mine, hers. There is nothing I could write to set us free.

Jacqueline Bublitz at body, remember

It’s not the flags she has planted (revisited)

If he is honest there has been a relief in letting her go. It is surprising in fact just how quickly he has gotten over her. Her absence has not been felt as a loss so much as a return to an equilibrium he missed desperately when she was around. All of that veering left and right, the constant stain of regret on his fingers, where everything he touched was somehow marred by her presence – this perpetual state of agitation mercifully disappeared when she did.

He has his life back. It is a life he loves, his friends, his family, everything he’s worked so hard for. He did the right thing, he told her from the start didn’t he, that he was happy and fulfilled and here is the proof that he wasn’t lying. There is no doubt that life has always been better without her.

And if there are times just before sleep when an uneasy feeling settles over him, when he wonders if this is all he will ever have, well it’s just habit, isn’t it. It’s just a little trick of the mind as she weaves into these suspended moments before sleep, when the last thing he sees in the drifting is her eyes, and how they flash at him. It’s nothing more than a glitch in his system. A temporary tangle of his nerves. She was never permanent after-all, there is no emotional connection he needs to sever. Just a glitch and even good men have glitches from time to time.

As for his friend, the only one who knows – well it’s better that they haven’t seen each other in a while. That singular confession might have been misunderstood. It might have seemed that he was unhappy, that he didn’t love his wife the way he was supposed to. When it all tumbled out he might have suggested that he loved the girl – and he didn’t love the girl. He has never loved the girl. He doesn’t want to have to explain, he doesn’t want to protest too much and so he leaves it all unsaid and it isn’t his problem if there is suddenly nothing left to say.

And so what if her book is still on his bedside table, the one she dog-eared with her little guideposts. The book that raised his wife’s eyebrows and how he said oh you know the books you pick up at airports because it’s foreign, this book. It suggests something unfamiliar and dangerous, and if that still gives him a thrill well he’s only human. He doesn’t remove those dog-ears because they’re good pages, irrespective. It isn’t her. It’s not the flags she has planted. It is just a good book. Irrespective.

He can’t help it either, if others bring her up from time to time. Like his mate who knew her first, his email and that photo last week. The message innocuous – look what she’s up to these days – cause yeah, she was always her own little planet, and she is still pulling people in to her orbit. But he’s far enough away now, he has his own centre of gravity that has kept him on the ground, and if he did stare at that picture just a little too long it was only curiosity. It wasn’t longing for the careless and constant touch. It wasn’t a desire to be pulled back in. He had never, ever liked the dizziness.

If he is honest with himself, and it isn’t that time before sleep when her eyes flash and he wonders if this is all he will ever have, without her.

Jo Piechota image at body, remember

A year later – I’m not sure you ever really get to the truth of it …

History

Would you like to tell me a little bit about that friendship, Maggie? It might help us both understand how you are feeling.

Susan sits back in her chair. I notice the box of tissues on her desk, the jug of water, the stress ball with a winking smile. I feel like she is waiting for a story. And again the idea of telling the truth, the desire to let it all come out.

Susan would you like me to tell you a story? Because I have one I have been working on for years. It’s about love, mostly. The kind of love you find in movies and songs, and also in quiet afternoons. It’s about a girl. A girl who loved a man. And how this man knew she loved him because she told him. Once and many times after that because you only stumble with such words the first time. So she loved him, Susan, and he knew it, and it was then that the battles began. Because love can so often feel like war, don’t you think?

She fought so hard for his attention, and surrendered more than she ever intended. She lost days because of hours, and saw the under-side of more nights than one ever should, alone. She cried to friends, and to the moon, and one night to him, where she discovered this man she loved unmoved by her tears. On that night she made her deepest acquaintance with loneliness yet. And for weeks, months after, she held him off with this loneliness, wrapped it around herself, and waited for the love to lessen.

But Susan, the girl continued to love the man. The love had snaked its way in to her bones and anchored in the deepest part of her. She missed him and began to forget the sharper edges of their relationship. She remembered instead the way he had touched her wrist on that very first night. She remembered his worried eyes and the soft pad of his thumb against her lip. She remembered him singing in her ear, and the rough of his neck, and the tremble in his throat when she undid his tie.

She began to polish the grooves out of her memories and soon only shiny surfaces remained. She slipped these memories in to her pocket and took them out at night in the dark. She started to hold on to every last night and let go of every next morning, and soon her loneliness recalibrated into longing. And when only longing remained, she took the memories out of her pocket and laid each one before him.

And it turned out the man had been waiting all along. He welcomed her return and held out his hand.  When she took it both were full of forgetting, this man and this girl who could not write their own conclusion. The end of their affair was not destined to be quick and strong. After a time it got to be that they could not tell the difference between falling down and getting back up. But Susan, they held on tight, just the same.

 Until the day he went away for good, and he left her with those memories in her pocket. She is trying to carry them alone, but their weight makes her so heavy she  fears she might sink under and drown. Susan, can’t you see how she’s drowning now?

We worked together, I say to a point over her shoulder. On the National accounts. I was, well, his Girl Friday, you know? But then we sort of drifted apart.

I fix my eyes on the box of tissues. This is really the only story I can tell. Ours is a book of stark, blank pages where the words have been erased. A history redacted because once upon a time we carelessly promised that we would leave nothing of each other behind.

Rocks Image at body, remember