Saturday, 30 January 2010
This came to me first in the night, later consolidated by a mid-day soak in the tub...
She had to run. She had to leave without shoes, the socks on her feet making her slide a little across the floor. She found herself crying in the next room because it was all too much. Not sad, mind you, but a relief, now, just to be standing there in the dark, in the quiet again. The room somehow enchanted, the streetlight glittering in her eyes. She wondered if anyone noticed that she had slipped away.
Music from the front room, her own music whispering down the hall. The sounds and the presence of the people she loved and whom she knew loved her equally, unconditionally, inexplicably. It was all too much. This play of love and light in the simplest of small gestures. She crouched down across her bed and hugged all their empty winter coats to her face, inhaling the wintry smell of outdoors. What to do, what to do with the knowledge that she could be bowled over by the slightest of shared things? What to do with the fact her heart trembled whenever anyone left her a handwritten note ('I came by, but you weren't in'; 'You and me: lunch, tommorrow. I've been experimenting with lentil soup'; 'Can I please, please, borrow your cat one day?'; 'Saw this in the jumble sale and thought of you.')?
She could hear laughter now, and dancing. She tried on a coat, Jeremiah's, with the hood, with the whale bone buttons she had, once upon a time, toyed with playfully until he realised what she was doing. She wrapped the coat heavily around herself. Then she went to the window and looked out on the street. She imagined herself slipping down the fire escape, becoming somebody else. A stranger. He would have an invitation in his pocket, something secondhand, her address scrawled there in green ink. He would buzz her front door and be let in by one of her gorgeous notegiving friends. Coming up the stairs, hearing the handful of voices, he would begin to feel slightly awkward, wondering if he should have taken this invitation seriously. Then he would remember the green ink and curiosity would get the better of him. Yes, he will continue the climb up to the fourth floor. He will have brought a present, a little cake bought from a pattisserie that had only just closed for the night but on whose door he had kept knocking, nervously, until the baker had let him in. He carries the cake openly in his hand as somebody, one of her friends, directs him to where he should leave his coat. Then he will apologise profusely, noticing that there is a girl standing there in the dark of the bedroom, maybe crying, maybe not. And he will say her name (all of it, first and last) for the first time. Her name as a question. And she will nod. And he will offer her that little cake, not as a sign of his love (of which he now perhaps feels a glimmer, a foreshadowing pang), but as a sign that he knows just how loved she truly is. Yes, if she were that person, this big-coated boy, she would have done just the same: held the door open, inviting herself back into the light again.