We were young,
much too young,
to see the man
swing in the sun.
A hissing wind
pushed past the leaves,
a rope pulled tight and
moved with the breeze.
Paleness and redness
and a stretch of limbs;
there was a note of sorry’s
and a list full of sins.
Speechless, we ran,
no space to breathe,
from the haunting shape
hanging from the tree.
“I don’t know,” she looks away, “home isn’t where it used to be.” My fingertips move to her arm. She shrugs me off. Again. And, in a moment, I become a spectator in my own life. I see her and I see me. We are characters on an invisible screen. We are paused, playing statues. The space between us is more evident than ever. Say something, I plead to myself.
“Please, you need to stay.” My hands interlock behind my head and elbows make sharp shapes. She used to move with my words, but now the air remains still. Vacant. Then she turns to face me. A half smile which fades as soon as it arrives. No words leave her mouth. She says nothing and everything.
Moments like this define love. If two people love eachother and are meant to be together one of them will fight. In this moment, one of them will say something. Anything.
Years passed as we stared at eachother, but neither of us had enough of anything left in our hearts to break up this break up.
She was gone and then she left. All that remained was a shape of a man I used to know, casting shadows against the walls of a small empty room.
She smiles as if it was her last. The needle falls, yet still sticks out from her arm. She goes limp. I take her syringe and refill it. I inject the fire into my veins. Eyes roll back. Heart attack.
Sex rushes over us like a warm tide. Skin is electric. The floor is softer than ever. Spongey, pillowy wooden floorboards. She dissolves. I dissolve. We dissolve. A blend of hot and cold. Smiles on the walls and the door looks itchy. Smokey smells loom above me.
A skyline rises and falls against a blushing sunset horizon. Towers fall and the smoke plumes into a cluster of words. The smokey words shift into a sentence made for her lips and her lips only. The smoke, she whispers to me: ‘Die young and save yourself, before you become someone else.’
You hate yourself. That’s what you tell yourself. Stop living too close to yourself, you’ll realise you don’t like what you are. There are people out there who can distract you from you.
The cafe is half-full and it is because there is a toddler screaming in the corner. Her mother is quiet and calmly tells her daughter to behave herself. The screaming gets louder. Piercing. It sounds like breaking bones. Two old ladies leave and shoot the mother a stare which says: ‘you need to deal with this’.
The coffee cup is empty before you know it, so you order another. The waitress disappears. The screams become more amplified. Half words and blubbering. The child doesn’t know what she wants, noone does, she just knows she is missing something. We are all just calling out into a vacuum. The mother picks her child up and embraces her. The child is soothed and calms down.
The cafe refills like it would after a fire drill. People are happy. Well, they look happy anyway.
Another coffee comes. There’s no sugar on your table. You look up to ask for more, but the waitress is already gone.
“So what did you need to talk to me about?” A female form sits opposite. Hands clapped in prayer. Fingers interlocked into a clump of knuckles. The sleeves of her jumper pushed up into folds at her elbows as they rest on the table. She was here the whole time. You were too busy thinking about yourself again. You make her see-through when you act like this.
“Sorry, I couldn’t concentrate with that kid crying.” Preamble. Just another sentence that means nothing. You need to get to the point. You need to deal with this. Stop procrastinating. Her eyebrows raise in a way to ask you to answer her fucking question.
“Frank, if you’ve brought me here to break up with me you could’ve picked somewhere a bit nicer.” A song is playing under the noise of other people’s conversations. You like the song, but today it sounds dreadful. Too much talk. Jumbled words are spoiling something you used to think of fondly.
“There’s my point.” Did you mean to say that or think it? Well, regardless it catches you off guard and with no follow up sentence you’re going to be hit with more fire.
“What’s your point?” Her face screws into a different person.
“You expect too much. Even now.” Concise. You’re getting better at this. Still pretty vague though, Frankie boy.
“Is that so bad? Too expect the person you love to make you happy” And there we go. She’s said it for you. We aren’t happy. Repeat her words back to her so she realises that she said it first. It’s a coward’s way out, but god damn it’s effective.
“I’m not making you happy? I thought so.” Your eyes move to the floor. You look dejected, you think. The song still plays in the background. It’s still dreadful. Fingers fiddle with your cup. Coffee untouched.
“I don’t know why I even bother. You don’t want this,” Her eyes start to shine the way they always do before she cries, “you never have wanted this as much as I have.” She’s right. She is the one who always makes the effort. She is the one who always goes out of her way. And what do you do? You order yourself a cup of coffee and don’t ask if she would like another. You listen to the conversations of other people and remove yourself from your own. Even now, you’re not listening, Frank. She’s still speaking, you know. I guess you’ve been gone for a while.
“You’re right. This has been over for me for some time.” She jolts into a standing position and makes a scrabble for her phone and purse. Hair everywhere. You are certain that the exaggerated movement of limbs is her way of distracting you from the thin shine of water welling in both of her eyes.
“Well, that’s all I needed to hear.” You’re certain that is what she says.
Cycles. This keeps happening. You keep turning off. Where is your staying power? This is de ja vu. This is a reoccurring dream. This is a cafe you keep revisiting. Why do you even come here? You hate the way they make their coffee. It’s too strong for you. You enter here together and leave alone. Self-destruction isn’t the word, but it is the first word that comes to mind.
“A refill?” The waitress returns like she has always done before.
“Yes please,” the words echo. They have been said a thousand times before. “Oh, and some sugar please.” The waitress has already gone. That same dreadful song plays.
“We are too strict on ourselves,”
Her blouse makes shapes by itself;
Moving like a ghost, it slips between
My fingers, back into my life, unseen.
A press of lips –
Is more than we can stand
But less than we demand.
“I should go.” I say,
Unable to look away;
“You should really leave.”
Lip-bite, clutching at my sleeve.
A vacant smile,
in a hospital bed
With wires all around,
A stranger in his own head.
Everywhere, an unfamiliar face.
At least he looks happy,
Like he is remembering;
“Daniel, where is my son?”
I’m right here, dad.
“He can’t visit today”
“He’s a busy boy.”
“He is, but he still loves you.”
“I hope die soon, Daniel.”
I hope so too.
No-one wins at ground level:
As lofty clouds drift,
Blocking out the sun;
There will be no light left
Once the changes come.
It’s just the same old guys
Wearing different colour ties
Telling the same old lies
As the country dies.
We talk in circles,
Hands cupped in comfort,
With words of sameness
The subject changes
“Do you think we should -”
“Stay together, yes.”
And a weightless kiss
“Are you sure you -”
“we both want this.”
He pours for himself,
Her cup: empty;
She reaches out,
With searching eyes, for tea.