I broke up with you and you came round anyway because we’re a well-wrought pattern. On an etch-a-sketch, we’re the over-scratched squares, the TV pixels damaged beyond repair. You may as well just hire a skip.
Your mother sat us down and said, “I don’t approve. Don’t know what this is. But I want it from your mouths – like a politician’s confession. You know they didn’t write it but you need the confirmation anyway. Even if it’s lies.”
“So you want us to lie?” I asked and she said, “No,” her disapproval thick like gravy mixed wrong or right depending on what you like. We’re different. We like different things.
“I don’t want her running away with you, and if you moving is enough to do that, manipulate it, we need to talk.”
And her word choice – manipulate – was no accident, no slip. But we momentarily analysed it like that would help us second guess what came next. The talk we gunned for, your mother sitting down, hearing out, mulling, came fractions late, but people say there’s always time for repair.
I didn’t see a crime when I should have. Raised Catholic I’ve been taught every day’s a sin, every action is, so it’s hard to tell what’s right. And it’s a neat blur, the overlap of songs on the radio so slight you almost don’t notice it. And then you do.
And even though I see now, after the shout punch beration, I don’t know what to do, because you’re my rosary beads and I can’t stop playing with you, the statue I turn to nightly, the framed print worth nothing I question and question and question and the answers don’t make indentations, aren’t useful in a pub quiz.
If I didn’t learn from nuns, if I’d had entirely other lessons, maybe I would lie better or wouldn’t have to because I’d understand right from wrong. As it is everything is wrong wrong wrong and before you, I’d wake up, a shallow pit with a certain knowledge I’d mistaken, I’d been making mistakes. And after the first kiss, slip, zip, button, I’d wake with the same feeling, a life hangover unaltered by anything we’d done or not done.
So tell me how to figure this out. Pass me an etch-a-sketch, make me believe some things are really erasable; not everything lingers.