Engineer

The morning everything changed started off like any other. Isn’t that what they say, anyone who knows what it is like to have everything shift on its axis, the way I do now. There is no prescience, no inkling in the waking up, the reluctant sliding of feet into sneakers, the bleary sipping at instant coffee while you wait for the dark to give way to a safer shade of grey. How different can it be, the morning that everything changes? The planet itself is not adjusting itself for your story, it is not preparing you or it for what is to come. The indifference of the world to your plight is a remarkable thing to realize. Liberating even, once you understand that it all goes on without you. Although that day, I learnt what it means to be firmly at the centre.

It started as just another morning in this new life of mine. I had been living it slowly for weeks, testing out this new ground like some baby animal learning to walk. When I left Adam, time changed its pace to something slower than I’d known. When you have been tethered so long and finally find yourself free, you do not burst into a sudden run. Days are to be absorbed; like sun on skin most sensations are felt from far away, and it takes nights and weeks to find yourself present in any moment, to know that you are here, safe, sure. I had been in a relationship since I was 18 years old. I had been wrapped so tight in Adam’s love that everything felt loose and vast when I finally shook it off.

It takes time to learn how to be free. I was terrified of the open spaces before me, the emptiness after years of clutter. I understand a little of why people stay so long. Fear is easier to contain when you can recognize it. Then there is the isolation, the looking up to find no-one is waiting . I had lost so many friends and barely noticed, the girls from my dance classes, the worlds of people from my time with the Company. Each one inching, then turning away when I wouldn’t follow the lead they offered. So many, I see now, who tried to help me extricate myself in those early days. So many who said oh hey there’s a bed at mine if you ever need, and asked of me more than others, Lucy, are you okay? I always said yes because what would you say? When the love we danced, the art we made was so often violent and explosive. How could I say I didn’t want it that way off stage?

They are jealous of you, baby Adam would say as one by one these sentinels dropped away. But don’t worry because you’ll always have me. No-one knows you like I do.

Funny that sentence. No-one knows you like I do. How it can sound so assuring at first, how eager we are to be known, and how sure we are that we are not already transparent. Later, when you have given it all away, that sentence will be thrown back at you, as hard as a slap. No-one knows you like I do. Your selfishness, and your stupidity, and your ugliness. No-one sees the real you, the pathetic you, except for me. And you’ve already believed the words a hundred times, so this is just another truth to absorb. From the person who knows you best. The careful engineer of your isolation. Yes, I know a little of why people stay.

That morning, the morning everything changed, I was thinking about dancing again. How there must be some memory of it still in my bones. Muscle, they say, but I think it goes deeper. I thought I might make a call – tomorrow. Toby, he still ran his studio from that warehouse in Prahran, maybe he’d let me teach a class or two, find my way back. I was sure it would not take long for me to remember.

When I set off for my run I felt pleased with my intentions. A future plan, an idea of tomorrow. For the first time I did not feel like I was escaping. Funny to have that thought right before I was pulled back in.

***

Eidyia’s note: I want to take care with this character. The final act belongs to Lucy …

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