Interior/Ex

In the back alley by the bread shop I saw you. I pivoted like they taught at band camp, netball, shuffle walked like a sixties’ zombie. You were out the shop quick like an alarm was going and everyone forgot to pay. I caught your eye as I thought I wouldn’t when before I’d been sure I would, like magnetic leads to laptop connectors, asexual. Your nod was condolent, like someone asked if a film was good and politeness forced an answer. I asked your back if you wanted coffee but you were past me, heading to work or your wife’s or a girlfriend’s. You were plumper like a first generation iPod; I don’t know if you are, as you’re pieced from hearsay, other people’s photos on Facebook.

I thought that was it. The agonised chance slipped like trying to spot myself as an extra in the background of shows on terrestrial. But I saw you later. I found where you worked as they led me. You weren’t unhappy to see me; you kissed my cheek like we were family. If we’d fucked, we would be.

But we didn’t, did we?

It was nightclub busy. I met colleagues, you were happy like when we watched 300, the bus station kiss, solidly better than daydreams. You were complete like a charity shop jigsaw: surprisingly, and I couldn’t be happier for it. If I’ve one wish that won’t be it, but it’s the second or third, the back-up present if the one I want is out of stock, continually.

We said we’d get coffee, drinks. Your friends talked like I’d seen them last week and five years of shit, regret collecting like junk mail behind the front door in immovable heaps, or social network friends’ lists, hadn’t happened.

I came back and we kissed like forever. Commitments since were interim roles in other films which didn’t make a top 100. And I’d made it my mission to watch every Allen, Brief Encounter now duffle coat marred, impossible to separate from you, like food cans when the ring pulls snap.

This was the start of a series, season, a show which would run for five years, six, or four, its cancellation creating online petitions, campaigns, and Bible pain in which hope’s there but cracker thin, wavering like an ombré dip dye. And I love.

Brief-Encounter-Universal

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Unkind

Jack said solve the puzzle so I solved it. He said, “Puzzles are hard. You must learn first. Take a course in it.” But I’d done crosswords, thought how hard can it be? Like a hundred times but more?

When the help died, the experts face shot, frail defenders, I solved the puzzle. Took a wild right guess. Home at the end of it. Oddless, flukey, kind of contrived, but contrived is true, sometimes.

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Arranged Match

You will pluck me from obscurity sure that my gun handling abilities are above par, on par, almost par, and you’ll mould me the way I did dough, and bread and gluten-free spaghetti (stealthily unbendable, non-pliable, even when wet).

And I will break up, break with, and I’ll take in all sorts of literature and I’ll explain, in a zombie apocalypse I’m exactly the person to know.

I’m a person you should know, okay? You say you know, it’s why you picked me. But I can’t help thinking all action is really inaction, and that there’s no other earth to compare us to, no mirrors, and no reason, and what we think we’re altering’s only a construct that isn’t there anyway. A hypothetical, invention. Like freedom, you know?

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I Lost My Spine

I extinguish myself then set about you but like teaching, taxes, Lost’s last season, I couldn’t plot the fairground rides in the right order so that they didn’t smash as they spun.

People I knew in school start disappearing, in coastal towns, cliff edges, at the tops of forests with altitude, in busy precincts I no longer frequent. They’re not lost anywhere I’m familiar with and I’m not familiar either with them although the names are a roll call cemented in my brain better than biology, slicker than maths. I never revised, read, knew enough for exams, dissertations, dinner conversations. Couldn’t renovate talks with Aaron, conduct any meaning with John.

And every other dream’s less ridiculous and every girl I should’ve learnt from becomes the actress director dancer writer partner mother baker friend I’ll never be.

Dreamt of Awful Things

This is sorry. Before the bad things happen. Because if I knew the man I picked would end you easily on rescue missions or resource runs, I’d have hesitated. There might’ve been hesitation, the sort you sense in Blockbuster. Instead, I defaulted.

Before he says what happened, tells me like I’m a priest capable of curing all ill (lol, jk, I’m a woman, right?) I picture you marrying trees, hiding beneath bodies, hoping for lulls in traffic. But there are always more coming and I allow for the possibility, I accept there’s a 45% chance you’re gone or you’re one of them. When he says, “I killed him. I had to end him. I couldn’t stand him being around,” I wait for sick but we’ve not eaten in days – the last meal I had, you were opposite, holding your plate close to your face, ready to lick it if no-one was watching. I was though, watching, wondering if you can extinguish flames with words, because words out loud are after all breath, and air can both fan or put out fire, and I wasn’t sure what my sentence meant. I’d have been discreet saying, “The arms at my side are dead weight and his heart keeps me awake beating like life’s the same, like constant’s are okay, and his skin’s sullen and I’m supposed to be okay with that?”

Replace things when you can.

If I Have Been Unkind

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.