There he is, the morning of.
It is summer and he feels good in his skin. Stretched to the corners of his life, filling them out. Everything is as it should be; he is where he should be. He’s solid here, close to the ground, nothing shifting underneath him.
There he is. Oblivious and satisfied, this morning of.
Oblivious: Unaware. Without memory.
Oblivion then, is this. All that stays unknown. There are fires forgotten, under that skin. Little licks in his veins he tries to out-run. Thinking flames can be exhausted this way. Not knowing a single spark can revive.
And how close he is to burning, now.
There. Here. There he is.
He’s out the door, and the sky is blue, and he’s running along, not knowing her name. He’ll hear it today, this name, for the very first time. Unaware of the dreams she’ll soon gather, of the clocks and counting just ahead.
He doesn’t know that he will remember. And that she is his memory, waiting.
(I never, not for a single day, forget)
There she is, the morning of.
It is summer, and she feels it. The winter sadness has been shaken, sloughed from her skin, and she’s lighter now, present. Waking without the ache, without the anchor thud dragging her down.
There she is. Happy and forgetful in her getting ready, this morning of.
Ready: Prepared. Willing. Equipped.
The readiness is all, they say, but at this minute she thinks she has escaped her fate. She thinks one can survive it. She does not know, as she takes that last mirror look, as she smoothes her hair and tongues her teeth for lipstick stains. She does not know that life can change in other ways, that there are slower, softer ways of starting.
She does not know what’s out there, waiting.
There. Here. There she is.
She’s out the door, and the sky is blue, and she’s humming along, not knowing his name. She’ll hear it today, this name, for the very first time. Unaware of the ghosts he’ll soon gather, of the tracks and stopping just ahead.
She doesn’t know that she’s begun. And that he is her somewhere, waiting.
The year you died, I won the lottery.
I won the lottery, and then you died. What were you doing in those months that I spluttered and failed in this city? How did you feel your way through those hours and days, and who was by your side?
I won the lottery and I squandered my winnings, thanks to love. You lost even more thanks to hate, the warping of love beyond the point it warps us all. I think of those months that separated us, and how I was turning toward you the entire time, coming closer, thinking I was moving myself along, but really it was life under my feet taking me a different way. The pretence of control, as if winning the lottery doesn’t already prove that it’s random, chance that carries us.
You died alone. But I was there. After. In the 13 minutes it took for the police to arrive. Sitting, standing, crouching, doubled over. Pacing in the smallest circle, careful not to touch or move – Stay still, they said. And I knew they meant to say – Someone was there before you, someone left their mark. If you don’t disturb. And you know where to look …
The idea for my second novel is taking shape. Beginning again is its own kind of memory …
It took you three full days. Then the little red flag and your name.
‘Did you get home alright the other night?’
‘I was thinking. I should have walked you home …’
‘Oh ha, that’s okay. I can take care of myself’
‘I’ve no doubt. Still, I probably should have. It’s just …’
‘It might have been more dangerous with me there’
A full hour and then:
‘I might not have stopped at your door’
This is is how it begins. A little dance of words, each sentence extending an invitation to the next. One offering accepted and then another until your fingers are tripping over the keys in your eagerness to propel this thing forward. My response was immediate. I had waited three full days.
‘I like living dangerously’
And that was it. The beginning of us. Seduction can be so banal.
I caught it, fleeting as it was. A rare moment where you know exactly what is happening to you, and how. It was only this on that first night but I felt your hand on my wrist all the way home and I sat up and stared at the wall until the moon disappeared. It seemed funny at the time, just short of ridiculous. I was cultivating a broken heart and it wasn’t supposed to rearrange itself so quickly. It felt – distasteful – how easily I fell. Did you think about me that night too? Were you telling yourself a story about how you had touched a woman’s wrist and felt the pulse of her under your index finger? How it had been a moment and nothing more, the kind you no longer considered yours to take?