We never saw your door but if we did there’d be blood stains, black sheets, carved warnings. And your bathroom mirror might be all lipstick, smudges and smears, threatening messages, that you’d not heed because you use your laptop until the last minute, scream at the screen when it dies despite five minute warnings and one click saves.
We expect eternity for us and our parents.
So when you die we know you were marked although we never saw it. We scroll back through moments like episode descriptions in TV guides, on websites, deciphering what we missed, when we missed it. We can’t claw you back how we can ex-girl and boyfriends, the way we woo old friends on Facebook and new ones through work, on buses, and our success rates for those things aren’t remarkable or notable so resurrecting you is a bet we’d not place, a lucky dip with little hope in. Everything we know of gambling we learnt from Brad Pitt in life and then in movies in that order because public mistakes are more interesting than fiction.
And when you die we don’t realise at first. We savour silence like it’s moments we’re happy to end when you walk in. But you don’t. Raising the dead’s a horror movie, Bible story, medical miracle or everyday occurrence, but you’re declared dead, you were declared it; the epitome, hopeless.
You will know when you know what you don’t want to. Until then you’ll believe feelings to be alterable with enough force or brainwashing, the way the church thinks gay is a decision, or that one man is infallible, how Madonna’s not aging even when she is. But none of these is right and one day will be proved incorrect – Pluto’s not a planet anymore, not one of consequence, and weather forecasts are rectified quickly like they never stood to exist anyway and blog posts deleted, statements retracted, actors replaced with people who look nothing like them.
When you do know what you must’ve known but buried like a cut up credit card in the garden hoping it would decompose like bodies and banana skins, there will be no smooth transitions, heartfelt break-ups. You’ll act like you would’ve in high school. But you knew when you started, the end. You will always ____ ____.
Jack asks why I’m with him, why we’re together. I tell him there aren’t rules, formulas, structures like songs have, stories, determining what we do, why we do things. Some people hope that there are, buy into law-making, omnipotent forces telling us rights and wrongs, but really it’s only us now, and who’s to say the decision I made he hated was altogether wrong?
“You have an opinion,” I tell him, “and I respect that, but that’ s all that it is – opinion – and what I do is my prerogative.”
He tells me I’ve got the wrong attitude. We sleep next to each other for the first time in three weeks and in the morning, he kisses me when we wake, habit overriding, making him forget what I did, why he’s mad. In ten years will we even remember?
Knowing which secrets to keep and which to give up is hard. Once you’ve said it, told, it’s the ruined potential of a friendship when you just had to fuck her, or hyped films, TV shows you see before anybody because of the time difference and enjoy the power and have a big mouth.
She forgives you because there is no-one for you. Every chance you blew and not in the positive sense, if there is one. Even her sister you shed like ill-fitting skin and she’s seasonal. You’re not eating enough to keep clothes on, sleeping to stay alert at work. You should be winning now. Instead you’re a knocked jar. The glass is intact but the uncooked pasta, the M & M’s spill.
Jack says, “Don’t get attached. If you do, don’t tell anyone. If a show’s set in a hospital and the character in question doesn’t work there, consider him dead already. The writers will kill him off, but not until you care if he dies. That’s what interests them.” The writers of medical dramas are akin to horror movie writers – like Final Destination, they’re cooking up exciting ways for people to die.
And if he doesn’t die, get suspicious. Especially if you’ve accidentally read on Google he does. Savour episodes, don’t skip through like they’re magazines which come out weekly. These are the moments you have him, you basically married him when she did. You never thought it was a sham so you deserve more than snippets, scenes in-between leads. More than five episodes this season. Relationships last longer than that.
At some point two men is too many men although it seems like a good idea to start: you should always have a redundancy.
Since you saw that Sex and the City episode you back all your files up but you also understand love is unexpected and cyclical and every person you say no to, send away, is due a do-over, and chances are available – like sold out Chanel on eBay. You’ve got to pay a little extra for it, give more of yourself you think you’ve not got, but if you’re serious about completing collections, can say you exhausted every inch and avenue when you’re dying or dead, it’s worth it.
The decision is simpler than you think. When someone calls you “family” you either feel it or don’t. And when Jack says it you picture Annie Hall, Bride Wars, imagine letting go, and realise it’s possible, and that it shouldn’t be, and your choice is made for you and it’s the right one and it’s the right one and it’s the right one and the right one is.
She married you, not the professional knight in shining armour, who does what you’d expect of him: swooping and saving, proposing on alternate knees when one gets tired, buying more than one meal a day for a woman. She married you but it’s not an important distinction. And it’s not a real marriage anyway, if there is such a thing, and it’s not a construct, tradition, imposed by men, invented by them, so they could conquer another thing, now that countries are given back and their sculptures are fought over and sent to their countries of origins and there are no real discoveries, especially as the ones about the universe are insumountable, to your mind, anyway.
There is no win in your head, no decision, action, that could make this divorce right, so it has the desired effect – that she’ll go on a date with you. She basically committed fraud, marrying you so you could scrounge the insurance she doesn’t need yet. Ask yourself, would many women go to the lengths she does to get you medical attention? And the list’s not long, if only she’s on it, then do whatever the fuck you can to stop her. Knights are fairy tales written by men, also.
Let’s create new histories, other stories, in which the unexpected happens, the unlikely is true.
We never thought our vows were invalid, got them officiated when pushed when it looked like the benefits we’d get from stapled sheets of Judge signed paper outweighed the convenience of paying for the service.
Since then I have lied to you, more than I did when we were dating or after we wrote our vows one night after changing our clothes. But the lies are not bigger than you seeing your wife and me or when you flirted with nurses in surgery and didn’t tell me about it.
We weren’t actually together then.
You’ll find the secret I’ve hidden in my belly button like accidental fluff I’m pretending I’ve not seen. Procrastination is a real problem for me. And it’s a thing you can’t un-know or lose, unlike god at all who is forgettable, distanced, a momentary fascination, like induced hallucinations or daydreams or dreams or stories or films or TV. Like you from slow angles like the floor.
I am not your first choice, second or third. If the world ends you’d rather die. But I urge you to make a list anyway, of every pro and con. Decide formally before you declare it in front of Alex, Charlie and Tom.
I have hobbies. I’ve seen a lot of movies. I know the names of every Beatles’ song and every Queen one. I’m not averse to bad TV if you like that. We could start with the nineties and work forwards – Ally McBeal and Buffy through to Grey’s Anatomy.
We have more in common than you think. I like my middle name in your mouth and my forename also. I have more money than guys your age. I have a working knowledge of the Bible. I won’t make jokes about virginity, monks, nuns, the sorts of topics you get ribbed for in the canteen. I’ve listened longer than you know.
You are my favourite month now. I met a girl called November but she was married. Otherwise I guess you could call me a fetishist.