4.10.2014 Journal Prompt

Image from The Doors
Image from The Doors

April 10, 2014: The last time he came over…

One Reply to “4.10.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. I remember the first time he came round. There was a fire two doors down and we had to leave the building and, standing on the street, our neighbours kept looking at him, their eyes all questions, and me smiling like a cat that’s got the cream. It started raining and he lifted his coat over my head and his and we huddled in close and he smelled so clean and so new.

    The second time, I was a little drunk, and he was, too, but still I remember it. We met by chance at a party and it was too loud inside so we stepped out. He kept topping up my drink and I laughed and said I thought I’d had enough. We took the long way back to my place, weaving a winding snail trail through the streets and stopping to kiss under lampposts and fumbling with the buttons of his shirt and my blouse, but only fumbling.

    There are a dozen times between then and now and some of them I remember and some I forget or have rolled them all into one ball. He brought flowers sometimes or books wrapped in tissue or porcelain eggs or threads in rainbow colours. He came for dinner or for breakfast once or for no reason at all except to see me. We watched the tv some nights and we slept on the sofa when it got late and his clothes were crumpled in the morning and I dared to kiss him when he slept. And no more than a dozen.

    And the last time he came round, who but the gods knew? And he’d scrubbed up cleaner than clean, and he looked a little nervous or uncertain, as actors must look before they step onto the stage. And he would not sit at first but paced the floor, and I waited for something brave.

    ‘Look,’ he said. Then he faltered and nothing. Then, ‘Us,’ he said, and nothing more. And the space between those two utterances was heavy with unspoken words. He breathed deep, held one breath in the swollen pouches of his cheeks and blew it out slow as if breathing was a hard thing. And, ‘Us,’ he said again.

    I took his hand and I put it to my impatient breast. And one or both of us trembled. And we kissed, and kissed again and might have stuck at kissing if I had not moved towards the bedroom. That’s how it happened, though in his story, if ever it was told, it might be told different. But chance never gave us chinese-whisper-time to reshape our tale, it was the first time he stayed over and the last time.

    I have played it through a hundred times in my head. A thousand weeping times, and each time I know there are things I have lost, things that have slipped through the widening cracks. The smell of him is less and the shadows on his face a little deeper so I do not know if I recognise him in the story, and his words so soft now I cannot hear their full extent. And I do not know if he said love or like or less. And I curse him to hell and back for it being the last time.

    It was a friend who said. She thought I knew and she held one hand over her mouth, but words spilled out, and she said she was sorry and it was so sad and so terrible. And it was. And that’s when it was certain and never could be changed: the last time he came round.

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