I am a catch, an understand your jokes, almost never late, catch who’s seen every episode of Frasier. And if that doesn’t impress you, when we’re snuck up on, filmed, photographer, fired or broken up with, I’ll find a way to your house or hotel room and watch whatever you watch when you’re alone. Even porn. Even that Paris Hilton one.
On TV they tell that you’re lying by blinks, mistakes you make stuttering, speech impediments be damned, it’s incriminating evidence alongside blusher, sweat, spit, finger tips grating against the skin of another.
My eyes are pinned and I won’t close until the entire paragraph is mouth-free. I’ll recite a line from a poem I wrote about you in high school – when you were a student and I was your teacher. I could even re-tell the story of us the way we’ll tell our children, without x-rated, cops, my nails scratching at bra hooks, slipping through the outlines of flowers on the lace that you’re wearing.
And what we will tell, lie-less, is a matter of opinion, an opinion matter.
You sleep first and the neighbours fucking isn’t enough to rouse you.
Don’t try too hard, or do, but don’t give advice before you know, and you’ll not know when you know because there’s no graduation ceremony, and the age gap pops like a DVD case that someone else owned first, and the skin on skin is something electric, and you can’t help the thoughts, that own age is two the same, and this is alternative, and you’ve reached to outer space since Signs which was after Sixth Sense and you’d embrace another reality if it opened like a set of soundless bead curtains, and you wish you could cup every lost year and live through his time because you’ve missed so much, and what’s left isn’t enough somehow, because eleven years gone, he’s got eleven years more, and every word you say’s a word he’s said and you’ll not match and how much longer will clashing be in fashion? The hairdresser said dip-dye’s not popular like it was in 2009, and 11, and eleven is a prince, is a Jack, is almost.
Once, I wanted you in public but, looking on it this way round, maybe I wanted only what I knew I’d never have, like Hugo Boss or George Clooney’s transition from syndicated TV based on books to direction, and writing and frames, and two-yearly girlfriends who maybe sign contracts or something.
And you, and the years younger, think evasion is a boyfriend-girlfriend game, that snacks are placation, and emasculation is a text book term you haven’t learned yet. Next year, college, semester one.
Any job which isn’t over you isn’t a career I’m afraid, not what I’m planning for, or on, enrolling in continuous professional development courses for or retraining or experiencing work situations for years for free in the hope of a salary.
This might be the start of the slow dissolve, like sugar not quite melting in lukewarm tea, and our sweetness is tart, or will be, once the season’s second half airs.
You were suspicious of me once, when Jack was here, when Jackie was, and you asked outright, or after 8 texts to friends and your mother. You always text your mum.
And the conversation lasted past both our bedtimes – my 11pm, your 12.30. And you cancelled Saturday morning coffee, there weren’t movies, and Sunday wasn’t an out-of-town aquarium, an over-the-border shopping centre. Instead you silenced every phone call I made, even when we were in the same room.
I’m getting your attention, securing your eyes, buying gifts to extinguish ex-girlfriends I fucked and others I slept with and I wonder if there’s a quota, of women you cope knowing that I’ve been with. And if there is, am I over it? Am I over the amount, or will another 8 days, 14 or 4 erase your fish memory that forgets what I made you for breakfast. Should I be worried about that?
Disallowed from slipping your shoes off, checking your scalp through your hair.
This is not a story with a beginning, a middle, or end, because the start wasn’t the start of something, and there’s no such thing as a clean middle, because middles are intestines, and the end we don’t touch however we try, and when we’re close, we want to live, just let us the fuck live for a second, to see every second you swore we’d see you lying ____.
I will tutor you when there’s nothing left: dead girlfriends, science failures, pocket money banned since Tuesday. I’ll buy you coffee, your regular order, some days hot, others iced, and I’ll rewrite tests and you’ll create answers, and like songwriting teams we’ll spend late nights in cafes, libraries, each other’s bedrooms, and the dropping home is the only improper time section I can guess or protect, predict. We won’t do anything because you’ve got commitments to god, to girls in general, and I’ve got a girlfriend and my girlfriend has a mother and I’d lie but I won’t: I’ve thought about it.
I say, “Pass the test, I’m praying for you,” but I’m an Atheist, passively hoping you’ll fail, knowing that there’s no win, and either way, two people go home together and, you know. I wonder if we’ll ever you know.
A year is easy to reach, and we do, without much thought. You cheat once, and I kiss a girlfriend I might have married, and I fight your father, and your mother says she’ll try and she tries and sometimes I buy her dinner or she pays because she’s the adult and I am, and it’s confusing, a little, and I’m not your teacher, and I teach you things, read books you read to keep up and ahead, and forget I can’t set assignments anymore.
And I wish we had deadlines, the ultimacy of exams, and I’d revise you until I secreted you even though I’d be the adjudicator brushing thighs at your examination table, developing paraphilia by association, the association being you. There are worse things to love, worse things, if you categorise things, if you can, and I do and your dad would say, “Don’t love what you love,” while fucking your friend Emma in the spare room on sleepovers you watched Dirty Dancing at for the first time, and Patrick Swayze, and dances, and Luke not asking; you never had a torso make you wetter.
I’ve been in love before. I survived on Pot Noodles and scratchy Sex and the City videos, some of which wouldn’t play, when David left, and when Ben quit I dropped 2 stone. It was the simplest weight loss ever apart from, you know.
And I hope you don’t go but if you do I’ll be fine. I’ve measured the lengths for ‘getting over’, and ‘rebounds’ and ‘flings’ I’ll try and I’ll do if it means you’ll get grainy like a badly pirated copy of a cinema release or a shop copy of a book I could’ve bought new from Amazon and I’d really savour the wearing, absolute lack of wear.
Each time, I hope this love is it, and there have been about 5 true loves, 11 ‘ones’, and anyone that says they feel different to the last, they can really tell, they have certainty, knowledge, they’ve seen, I say, “Shit,” because no such thing, there’s no such thing, and I’d only ever say that in the bed of Brad Pitt, and then I’d be stop-gapping it.
I hung up because reception was bad and your dad was in the next room grading papers, kissing students, whatever he does but I don’t see because I don’t see it.
Your voicemail flashed and I deleted the text telling me you’d left messages, one two three, and I marked five papers, each more absent than the last and a student came in and asked me what a comment meant and I said, “It’s a tick,” when actually it was your name and a heart and an arrow through it.
You wrote every book in my office and the mantelpiece photos are you but not you because no-one can see, and when they see, if they see, I’m a skinable fuck.