I’ve observed you, closer than kids’ nits, the overseeing of the erection of a building. Each twitch is the unsolved sum in the back of the maths’ book I didn’t take seriously at 16 because the boys next to me were note ready, asking questions of me like, “Go to Southampton with me?” And sure I went, but not before a toilet vomit, a nerve-shaft-splinter.
And you are the eccentricity of a Madonna video in the nineties when we all still listened and award-givers did and you are the half-cooked-frozen ready meal I scintillatingly under-cook purposefully so that I don’t have to cook any more dinners and you are slight alteration of size between shops so you look like you’ll fit but you won’t. And you are an almost-outfit for Halloween, trophy I never got, gift I didn’t log, sex I couldn’t suffer. I owned you after.
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?
Your friends are suspicious of everything – takeaway boxes, chipped polish, peeling wallpaper, attics. And me, they’re suspicious like they’ve seen too many Scream movies and know the killer’s someone they know.
And yes I have a motive and I’m unexpected and none of my actions are scrutinised really so I could get away with anything.
But they don’t know what I’d do for you, what I’ve done, and what I’ll keep doing if you let me, choose me, don’t choose him.
Once, my dad cut my fringe an inch short. I can’t remember him doing it, the reason for it – my mum was away, asleep or speaking languages to the neighbours and they couldn’t hear the vowels or the numbers so understanding each other took a really long time. When she came into the kitchen her mouth opened like a slit baked potato and in bed later I could hear half-spun swear words and five times, “What were you thinking?”
You were not who I thought, dreamed, expected. I had hopes, no reservations, just Matthew McConaughey posters, Kate Hudson on repeat. Every verse about marriage, spiritual ties with high purposes: I believed in plans and prefiguring.
You looked at my ears when we spoke. I calculated scuff marks, imagined tattoos and what I’d do when I found them.
You kissed me. A bit like in movies I’d watched in which the girl helplessly stands until someone sweeps, swoops, ships them. I was ready to be polystyrene packed, a brown tape seal on a damp box.
I don’t take down the posters, still pray to Tom Cruise that if he has a fourth wife, not that he’d leave Katie but, if he did, that he’d consider it, me, us. I make hot chocolate for Caleb and sleep in his arm pit. I was born Catholic.
I want your life, this moment, wish it could swallow me like a gobstopper. After the initial choke I’d dissolve into it. You wouldn’t even notice me there. I do a killer chair impression. I once pretended for fifteen minutes, only moving my arms twice. I’ve missed a trick, could’ve been a successful performance artist, do you think?
I don’t do what you do but there are similar seconds. There are almosts and that’s okay. I came to terms with my hip juts and my big toes years ago and I’m looking to improve furniture now, to upgrade, add on, acquire appendages, not that I lack anything just more is more is more is more is.
You don’t expect the proposal. It’s a surprise like finding cash in an old bag, or food in the fridge when you thought you’d accounted for everything on the last shopping list. You don’t know what to do with it. Every other ingredient in the kitchen is part of another recipe altogether and you promised you’d have dinner with Jack, cook something for Kerry.
You play with your ring finger, the significance of which is dictated by men, by whom all decisions are made and language implied, and you pull the skin of it like it’s lost elasticity, or it’s excess weight, or it’s stretch-marked and heavy, and you think how jewellery’s akin to renovation, a superficial improvement, wearable, wearoutable, like fresh paint or the keys on your computer’s keyboard. F’s lost its shell altogether.
You wonder whether ceremony, performance, can recover scars, or just emphasise them, and Mark’s who you thought you’d end up with, and every mistake you used to carry like a badly plotted point in an episode of The Walking Dead evolves into the event it should have been, until you’re considering and reconsidering him, wondering if under the lights in expensive shops he’d be attractive like a full price shirt, his depths would shoot off in directions like diamonds, if you even might lose the receipt, purposefully, to give yourself reason to keep him.
It’s easy to blame timing, like time has a choice or is altering us, choosing situations for us, making crappy decisions on our behalves.
The first time you caught him looking during lunch or before work, you should’ve done something. Whether it’s right or wrong, whether there’s such thing as a right and a wrong, definitely, definitively, you should’ve been more forthright in forging a perfect life, or at least one you can cope with. But you don’t believe in absolutes. You’re pretty contradictory. You’re a Jessica Simpson fan.
Every missed try, like that time you talked on the group trip and he told you as clearly as he could, and you pretended not to hear, is lost skin, possessions you had at school that Charlotte stole, music you’ve over-listened to. Feelings you can’t get back.
No-one will believe you. You’ll be semi-prepared for dismissals, mockings. You’ll wish you didn’t know what you know, see what you see, but the only perspective you can trust is yours. Everyone else is swaying.
You’ll reason but people are the TV on standby, exhausting energy but essentially useless, an untapped entity, eating the resources that could keep you alive for months.
They say the world is darker now and when you read the books in the Bible that detail the end times you imagined more burning, a lack of trust, the running out of face cream. Not all predictions are true. The papers were right about Titanic, The Artist, The Lord of the Rings sweeping the board, but how the hours play out when the movie making stops is a guess for someone else, a fortune teller in training, the last left, who we can default to. A star being made.
You’ll try not to picture the going. You’ll pace fields and streets and floorboards like life is still 2004, 2006. You’ll be asked to peel vegetables. You’ll treat every woman like your daughter, as if imitation is a reincarnation, prolonging. But we’re talking days, hours, and how long they last without you is trivial.
You didn’t pick a side, didn’t have to. People prefer not to know at the end of it. I still don’t know how Lost ends.