A perfect life

Don’t think, just do. High five the company’s number one sales person even though you haven’t sold anything in over a month. Give him that confident, killer smile you used to use on clients. Feel it fade as you walk towards the lift, wondering which of your stuff to sell next. Because that’s all it is: stuff, though you secretly cherish it. After all, it makes you you. You decide it’s your second car’s turn to get the boot (the boot? It barely had one anyway, it being a Jaguar F-type). Your wife will complain derisively (“how are we going to travel to Prairie House? By train?”), but at the end of the day she’ll realise a) it’s your decision, and b) it’ll be her money to spend, no doubt on a new pair of shoes or a dress (£60,000 can only stretch so far).

The street is yours as you walk down it; the crowd parts for you. You notice this, though you do not make any indication that you notice. And it is just as well they part for you for just then, a baseball bat comes flying through the air, spinning from God knows where, and you have no chance to stop it. You who have controlled everything – even your birth, in which you arrived three months’ late, refusing to budge from your mother’s warm womb. You are the only casualty, and you are an unlucky one at that: the bat hits you full on, not just one of its ends, and you find yourself on the pavement without quite recalling how you got there. You can hear a feral scream coming from somewhere close by and you realise just before you pass out that it is you and that something has changed deep inside you.

Next thing you know, you’re coming to and you can still hear screams, as though no time has passed and you’re still lying on the pavement, gum sticking to your tailored jacket. Except it’s Marcy, your wife – ever the theatrical – head bowed and sobbing away, not even realising you are awake. You shush her and she starts. You look closely at her as she raises her head and you realise she isn’t crying at all. You see she just looks shocked you’re awake. Before she can open her mouth, you speak – the first words you’ve said to her (besides “yes”, “no”, “honey” and “I’m busy”) in years. You say “I want a divorce,” or at least you try to say it but your throat is raspy and instead you just croak. So Marcy, oblivious, flutters around you, bringing you a glass of water with a straw in it, making little sympathetic noises. You take a drink and you can feel the water sooth your throat, giving you strength.

“I want a divorce” you say again and this time she hears you and her concerned eyes narrow. She throws the glass of water in your face. The straw hits your eyelid, which scars you far more than the bat did. Without a word, she leaves you – walks outside, leaving the water to drip down your neck and into your shirt. And in the weeks to come, you will find out she told everyone she left you, not that you left her. But you don’t mind, because at least you are free – Jaguar F-type and all.


The married couple was inspired by The Bonfire and the Vanities, which I read a few months back.

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Goodbyes or until next times (two)

I’ve reread the works you sent me over the years,

Sporadic as they were.

I must admit I misinterpreted them at the time; misunderstood you (and still do, most likely).

They were cryptic

And I was never as good at puzzles as you were.

I was never as good as you at a lot of things.

I am writing again – a long short story in the works which I have kept to myself. There is a scene in which a woman waits alone for something to happen. I will not say what because it is irrelevant.

I’ve never known that feeling until now: scared and waiting, sitting on the stairs until I am called upon. Holding my breath and listening for trouble with every irregular creak or strange noise.

I used to fill that gap with you who would calm me down, and it made me think of all the times you needed me in your own moments

But I did not answer or I was too scared I would not be of comfort.

And for that I am sorry.

I was never good in those situations. Never found the words to assuage; was too irritated to truly listen.

Dependence was never my strong suit.

I thought of calling you when the inevitable happened. Talk about trying to

Break

The habit of a lifetime.

When I wrote this last night a couple of nights ago, I stopped and closed my phone and my eyes and decided to sleep on it before sharing. But this post and the previous must have unlocked some truths in my mind.

I remember telling you a while back – I could not for the life of me recall an old colleague’s name. It went on for over a year and I would think of it at least once a week. There were even periods of time when I would try to recall it each day. But all I could hear was another colleague’s name and I knew it was not that, though they both seemed attached to one another in my mind. But as soon as I closed my eyes last night, my mind turned to that illusive name and it felt so close – on the tip of my tongue. And then it tumbled out and it didn’t sound right but it was and I had blissfully remembered that name after a year or more of wondering.

And it was similar to that other colleague’s name; both ended in “bi” –

Korean for “rain”, as though the memory had simply been washed away like a delicate flower and had needed time to regrow again.

It is strange not sharing this with you, banal as it is. It was always the little things though, remember?

Goodbyes or until next times (one)

There was an abruptness to its end

One which I did not foresee

But which now feels inevitable.

I remember thinking with the vulgarity and destruction of youth that I would not be happy until one of us were gone. So I left for a time, only to come back again. I had not changed. Destruction motivated me. Love and loneliness most of all, but destruction a close third.

I have been thinking it’s just as well we left

for I still have that destructive streak in me I can’t abolish.

One or the other. Not both.

We were no yin and yang. We were too similar in a way, and too far apart in the same breath. But I fear history will repeat itself. That the honey reserves you put in will be depleted and you will look up one day to see the pots empty and honey in your hair and in the creases of your skin. Destroyed by that which you have built, like a house falling in on its architect.

It is an odd feeling

Going through life

Without you,

But you helped me understand the monster inside of me

Though I am no closer to destroying it

Than I was before.