“Ms Halman, can I ask you to clarify? What you’re saying does not seem to me to be make complete sense.” Sam gestured as he spoke in a warm and welcoming manner. Whenever he would refer to Ms Halman as he spoke he would open out his left hand and then, as he refered to himself, he would close his hand loosely with all four fingertips subtly directing themselves towards his chest. Ms Halman was performative as she spoke. Her hands made wide sweeping cuts through the air yet always seemed to retreat back into her chest area after an intensive flurry infront of her face. She was confused and because she was confused she was overacting to disguise her mental instability as merely the symptom of being too busy and hyperactive.
“Explain, Sam? I think I have explained perfectly; I believe that it is you who needs to learn how to listen.” Exaggerating the selfhood of those participating in conversations had become a common habit of Ms Halman as of late. It was clear why she felt the need to put emphasis on her recognition of her own selfhood and the selfhood of others – she was in crisis.
“I apologise, Ms Halman,” Sam leaned forward and his palms greeted eachother in a sloppy prayer gesture, “I am just having trouble understanding your story. It seems that, by you own admittance, you were driving your partner to Doncaster yesterday, however, when we spoke earlier, you mentioned that you car had been left at the garage for the past few days to fix an issue with its clutch. I’m confused as it cannot be both. Can you see where the confusion is coming from?” Ms Halman’s shape changed into a fortress. Her eyes narrowed and in a swift movement bare feet had slipped on her sandals. She retreated back into her sofa and stared intensely at her social worker.
“Details, Sam.” Ms Halman swatted his assertions from her personal space with a flick of her left wrist. “You are being pedantic. These minor details do not matter in the grand scheme of things.” Ms Halman softly repeated the last few words of her sentence under her breath as if she was trying fully comprehend her own words and recognise the things she was saying. She was lost. We needed to help her find herself again.
There I stood
a shape of shame
in front of the man
who stole my name;
He took my soul
and turned it black
and cut the line used
to find my way back.
His eyes were mine
but resolute and dead
and sunken deep
into an untamed head;
I could barely see
beyond my mind
the man I was once
trying so hard to find.
A monster stared back
in every glass,
whispering to me
this must be your last.
Who am I today? My tongue moved around my mouth mixing a cocktail of whiskey, smoke and spit. The sunlight worked its way between the slated blinds and cut out straight shapes from the murkiness around me. I reached out and took a handful of her plump ass. She wriggled back into me, picked my hand up from her buttocks and wrapped it around her. I kissed the nape of her neck and whispered sounds in her ear. Sounds she wanted to hear. Her lips curled into a smile. Her eyes remained closed. She was trying to match my voice to a better man – a first love, the waiter at our table last night, her boss, her father, her husband.
“Hey, you,” She never calls me by my real name. A soft succession of sleepy syllables as her body rolled into me, “You’re up early.” Her eyes remained closed. I was still any man she wanted me to be. In this moment of half-dream, I remained as an idea. An idea of waking up next to the man she wanted and loved. An idea of eating breakfast together and pouring a cup of tea for eachother whilst partaking in tender chat. An idea of a kiss to the forehead and a reciprocal straightening of the tie upon departure for work. An idea of returning home, relaxing, embracing, fucking missionary and holding eachother close in bed. An idea of starting the whole routine again. Stability. My voice was stability and, while her eyes were closed, my words belonged to a man that could provide her with that stability. Before long her eyes will open and, upon realisation of the illusion, she will be hit by the hangover of reality. The idea will fade and she will gently turn away from me, pull the covers tightly into her chest and pretend to go back to sleep.
Until this very moment, the night had been a collection of sharp comments and very noticeable silences. Yet we laughed and spoke with such co-ordinated flair in the presence of Steve and Alice, who I assume were none the wiser. We looked normal. We looked fine.
We exit the car. Jess doesn’t wait for me. Instead she enters the house, throws her coat somewhere near the coatrack and marches into the kitchen – where all the knives are. I follow, bringing my own storm, making angry noises down the corridor until I reach the kitchen. Jess’s handbag hits the dining table like a Warhammer. I slam the fridge – beer firmly in hand – and now she’s looking at me as if to say ‘I hate you so much right now’. I drink, angry. Then I wipe my mouth in an exaggerated swoop of limbs like I mean business. Not a word said. Yet our eyes speak such violence. Our stares: unbroken. It’s a war and she sure as hell ain’t going to win. Not again.
The beer bottle makes a numb clunk as I set it down next to her bag. I move into her space and she hates it; she breathes fire hard and long. Fuck, I love it when she can’t stand me. And I love it when I can’t stand her. Hands curl into fists at my sides. I’m ready to fuck or fight. Her eyes snap upwards to my face which reads: ‘What are you going to do now, honey?’
Bluffs are called. She gently shakes her head. Her lips sucked into an aggressive pout. Her hips open up and our shapes lock. The sleeve of her blouse moves like an apparition between my fingers and her arms stain red. I want to share her mouth. Then my hair is clumped into a fist and my head is yanked through her face. We kiss. Teeth. Wetness and more teeth. Anger, pain, hate, bourbon and fuck. All rolled into one.
We spill heat. And breathe with each other. She sketches into my back with her fingernails. She’s an artist. I bite chunks out of her neck and shoulders. A pain exchange: blood for blood. With powerful lurches we start the long process of destroying each other. We try to break each other into smaller denominations. The carpet is rough and a dreadful colour. I blame her for choosing this carpet – and the curtains. Beige and boring as fuck – shows dirt easily. We move like dirt and stain the floor. We make it look better. We make it look less boring, like it has life. I mention this to Jess and she briefly smiles before telling to go fuck myself.
Shapes shift and we change into a new beast. Heavy sex-breath hangs between our mouths. In moments of coming up for air, I tell her I hate her and that she is incredible. Eyes rolled back: heart attack. I’m ready to fuck or fight. Or both.