A woman sits on a white sofa, surrounded by jewel-bright silk cushions. She is not moving, her legs tucked under her as if sitting in meditation, but there are tears catching at the corner of her eyes. Invisible straps have her fastened against the front of a train, and the heavy weight of all the days behind her push her forwards, faster and faster, the fields rushing past, people along the way merely streaks of colour. All she can hear is the wind whistling in her ears and her own heart beating out the days, one by one by one, until finally she will reach her destination.
A woman sits on a white sofa, and though she doesn’t move she lives another life, a time filled with passion and yearning, laughter and dreams, played out in front of her like a film. She doesn’t hear the phone when it rings, doesn’t see the television flickering in the corner of the room. She sees a man’s face and she hears his voice, her back arching as he runs his palm over the curve of her hip. She sits in a restaurant and watches his face change as he speaks of his frustrations; she cradles his head in her hands as she kisses his forehead in the dark of the night and makes promises there will not be time to keep.
A woman sits on a white sofa and tries to remember how to breathe.
‘One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.’ ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I’m having nightmares about the move, both when awake and when asleep. Dreams where I have so much baggage I can’t get it out the house, where my legs are so tired it’s all I can do to lie on the ground and weep. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the meaning of these dreams. I’ve worked very hard these last two years to find a place for everything: on the kitchen windowsill are the vintage bottles I collect; the built-in wardrobe in the spare room houses my vast collection of coats; the space where the kitchen meets the lounge is where the Edwardian table I use as a desk lives, where I sit now. What if my new flat doesn’t have a kitchen windowsill, or space for my desk? I know for certain there won’t be a spare room lending me an extra wardrobe.
What if there’s no room for him in my new life? Right now he inhabits every inch of this home, for wherever I go he is there, the memories of us are around me at all times, ready to be reconstituted; last night it was our last Valentine’s day together, and in my mind I’m walking through each moment, just as I did this time last year. The pull to the future is battling with the desire to fall backwards into the past; I’m finding this period really difficult.
At some point, I sense, I will have to say goodbye. Really say goodbye. Let go of what we did and didn’t do, of the hopes and expectations, of the memories – good and bad. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, and the longer he is gone the clearer I see the truth of what we shared: the love, the frustration, the let downs and the passion that never diminished; the mixed-up bag of emotions that constitute a relationship between a man and a woman. There are still moments when I want to scream and scream when I remember that I will never speak to him again, days when I would give up everything just to have a half hour in his company. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end, and to be left to deal with the fall out on my own is unbearable at times. Still. And so I breathe and I exhale, and I pick up my pen and write some words; I let it out in the only way I know how.