Heartbreak’s the making of you. Get out of bed lacerated, social media fails, he/her/it a figment, dark pass on Halloween, live life with a chest hole, learn breathing – panic’s made Poundland from good lungs. Write a play, excavate; you can’t autopsy ashes. Not everything’s repeatable: Disneyland’s boring twice.
It was late, when we stood in a field, with fifty cows. The bull, you said, was two fields down, and you thought it would be funny to let it in this one. I wouldn’t let you. You, who listens to me sing without laughing. Which isn’t easy.
Earlier, when it was light, I sat on your lap while you sat on a picnic table. You came up with lines to let him down with. I liked ‘Let’s just be friends,’ emphasis on ‘for now,’ and ‘I’m unboyfriendable.’ You told me it’s from a song, but you wouldn’t sing it. It wasn’t late enough and you needed more to drink.
Later, in the field, with the cows, we lay down, somewhere we guessed was centre, though is sure to have been off. You said it was the most women you’d slept next to, not just in one night, but always.
‘Me too,’ I said, and you laughed.
‘But you’re not next to any women,’ you told me.
‘I thought you meant the cows,’ I said. ‘The cows are all girls.’
After the lines about the cows, that made you laugh, that shouldn’t have, I thought how I could never use that line on the boy I was meant to, and I couldn’t keep him hanging on either. You fell asleep before I could get you to come up with other options.
The next day we found the bull, three fields down, not two.
‘Not much to do, on his own, is there?’ you said.
‘Too much in the other field though, really.’
I told you then I couldn’t tell the other boy I didn’t want to be with him, with the lines we’d come up with. You thought I meant I chose him, which wasn’t it, Pétur. It really wasn’t.
‘This is where we leave it then,’ you said to me, ‘One wanting to give it a try, and the other, not brave, with not enough charming lines to get them out of dates they said they’d go on.’
So I stood, in that field with one bull, thinking how, three fields down, he had so much choice, but he didn’t know it.
(Originally published on FlashFlood Journal, 19th April 2013)
When you went missing, I didn’t wait the prescribed hours the police station asks you wait before you report it. I couldn’t when I knew, the way my feet sense snow, or you second guess endings half way through films. I felt it like a yogic moment, when the cool down sends you to sleep, and the sound that wakes you back up defines the dream you were having, and I dreamt the door locks undid themselves and I couldn’t find the faces of anyone entering, but the murmurs were the voices of reporters playing in the background of other TV shows, signal interrupted, overlapping like crudely stuck collages, photo albums.
When you went missing I imagined the scenarios I’d seen in films: planes crashing, kidnappings, other families with your name over them, tied to me like the branches of ancestors we never logged, didn’t type up on our internet trees or add on Facebook. I pictured you falling in shops in ice cream aisles or fridged food sections, clutching arms and outsides of hearts or appendixes. I tried your phone three times each minute, redialing before I could leave messages, my mind empty like our vows which didn’t need saying and the thought of forcing them was the remaking of a hit TV show in another language, not entirely true.
When you went missing I criticised your upbringing and mine and the links we had in the years leading to it felt less solid like chocolate full of air holes, worth half the money. I sent out prayers even though they’re easy to ignore like email, and I wished on cookies, upholstery, park benches. I pinched salt like seasoning might save you. Eventually, the candle vigils I labeled hopeful were a peace offering to gods or spirits I’d seen through and angered for it. And the two sounds that could make a day matter: keys dropping on kitchen tables, the ringtone for your number.
Jack says, “Some films justify cheating and even endorse it, as if the writer’s after a way of rose-tinting a past they can’t really change.”
I ask for examples and Jack gives a comprehensive list that’s almost faultless, although his romantic comedy knowledge isn’t as full as I’d like in someone I’m considering seriously.
“What about Something Borrowed?” I ask him.
“That I didn’t get,” he replies. “The first half I couldn’t tell who we were vying for. And when she had the chance to fuck Jim Halpert and maybe even marry him and didn’t take it, the character seemed unknowable, as if the writer went back and re-wrote parts of her own life to feel better about them.”
“Isn’t that everyone’s dream?” I ask Jack. “To change things we can’t?”
“Not mine,” he replies, then he reaches for his phone, and I hear the message send, knowing I’m a bad overlap, like two people’s coats on a bus seat awkwardly layering or two flat fridge magnets, one peeling from the heater heat, the other more firmly stuck, only just. Not every action’s comprehensible so it makes sense that in films sometimes people make fucking stupid decisions.