hagiography

the autogeography of a no/body

Jun 28

16193

potentially a synopsis

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Kierkegard.

We all got born.  Most of us grow up, become adults and have children ourselves.  There's no big mystery to this.  What we don't seem to be able to work out, however, is why we're so miserable, why we can't communicate with each other and why we repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

My parents were terrible.  It might have helped if they hadn't been orphaned at an early age.  Neither of them understood how to fulfill their roles.  They did try, after a fashion, but it just kept going wrong.  Father loved me, in a way that's generally deemed unacceptable.  Mother hated me.  She was a Catholic.  She hated everything and everyone, especially herself.

I decided to start at the beginning, not because I think writing is a form of therapy, that's just narcissistic rubbish, rather because I believe that Athol Fugard was correct … If you can articulate something you can understand it and if you can understand it you can change it.

At the age of six mother told me my eldest sister was pregnant.  The thought horrified me.  Pointy things, long dark tunnels, growing ripe and bursting like a tomato.  Reality bites when you're a child.  I went and hid.  There's no escape though.

By the time I was eight, father was working abroad.  We visited him occasionally but mostly I wrote and he wrote back.  Then I got shunted sideways to my sister's.  It's odd being a permanent guest, never really having a home.

Things went from bad to worse.  I was diagnosed as schizophrenic, interfered with by the medical establishment, alienated by educational institutions and generally regarded as a problem requiring fixing, solving, erasing.  The more they fiddled the more broken I became.

And then I turned into an adult, capable of making my own choices and mistakes.  I did the usual things, went to college, took drugs, had unsavoury boyfriends.  It's all part of the rich tapestry of life.  I wasn't looking for Matt.  I sort of fell over him.  Of course I knew he was facing a lengthy prison sentence, but that just made it all the more exciting.  We got married.  I got pregnant.

When she was born I stared at her in disbelief.  Suddenly I was a mother and I had a daughter.  It hasn't been easy these last sixteen years, trying a raise a child with very little guidance or learned skills.  I panic sometimes that I've let her down.  Maybe my mother felt the same way.  I don't know.  There's just certain things you're never going to know.  I wish it had been different between us, when I was growing up, when I became a mother.  Perhaps if we'd been able to communicate we might have sorted the whole thing out.  I doubt it.

My daughter, in fact millions of daughters, leave home and start out on their own journey fairly ill equipped.  We have our trite sayings and our sentimentality, but what if we could arm them with the weapons they need to get through this life?  If we could share in order to succeed.  Honesty is perhaps the best policy.  We don't do it enough.

Just before she died I had a conversation with my mother.  I asked her why everything had got so messed up between us.  She said “When you get to my age you'll look back on your life and then you'll understand”.  She was seventy five.  I don't want to be seventy five before I understand.  Hindsight is not a wonderful thing.  

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Jun 26

15876

i got this picture on my wall; if you look at it one way it's guevera, another way marti and yet another way castro.  do you ever do that?  on your own in the bathroom?  you see your face in the mirror and it don't look like you?  no matter how hard you stare into your own eyes you can't see your/self?

yeah, yeah.

there was this one time i thought i was someone else, maybe it was a wish of sorts.

yeah, yeah.

you ever look at your hands and think that they can't have done what you've done?  right in front of you they are and yet they don't belong to you.  nothing belongs to us.

i couldn't sleep the other night.  lyin' in bed i had to keep crossing and uncrossing my own legs, couldn't stand the feel of my own knees and ankles.  and i had to tuck the sheet thing up between my tits, cos they was squashed together and even me on my own skin felt weird.  i tried to dream of a fresh forest, with dripping leaves and a mud smell path, but out of all my holes black insects came, little ones, beans on legs, scuttling.

yeah, yeah.

did you ever read that book 'how to become a schizophrenic'?

no, no.

this guy, he knew how.  what you have to do is get born into the american military, then you have to live on bases your whole life through, then you have to have parents that never believe a word you say, then you have to grow so you don't believe a word you say, or even a word you think, or a word anyone else says, until all the words are just hanging there, in mid air, not looking or sounding like words, but just growing and breathing and flapping, hyperventilating reality.

yeah, yeah.

reality.

you ever loved someone so much that you had to hide them away?

yeah, yeah.

someone you've loved outside of your/self?  you see them and they're not you, cos they're someone else, so you think maybe you can protect them, save them, not let it happen to them ever again.  

yeah, yeah.

i'm labouring the point like a woman trying to force a fat fucked feotus.  and here's the language of anger.  you've heard it all before.  i shouldn't bother you no more.

you ever built a sandcastle on a beach.  when you're a kid you don't know, or you don't think, that the tide's gonna come in and wash it away.  it's like you'll finish it and then walk away and it'll stop existing.  it won't matter to you, cos you'll be at home with mom and dad or mom and uncle bill or mom on her own.  they'll be fish and chips or a blanket your gran crocheted out of old socks or something.  you won't watch it all slide into the sea.  it won't even be on your radar.

yeah, yeah.

something.  nothing.

you ever watched someone die right in front of your face and known that someone is you?

we had this dart board.  it used to hang in the garage.  in the summer we'd go outside and throw the sharp points at it.  we counted backwards from three hundred and one.  you had to finish on a double.  i never did.  in our family everyone played to win.

oh shut up.  yeah, yeah.

i can't get hold of it and say 'this is this'.  christopher walken isn't wandering about inside my head.  underneath the picture of che/jose/fidel is a shelf, a printer's drawer on its side, wrong way up, lots and lots individual squares.  once they would've held letters to make words and sentences, now they're full of 'trinkets', the little things that don't fit anywhere else in my life.  there's a sheriff's star, a fir cone, a spinning top, an ANC badge, a small metal submarine.  all this means something, i just don't know what.  some days i look at this shit and i know, i KNOW.  other days i stare into the compartments and it doesn't make sense.

threaded 'round the outside is a string of fairy light, red ones.  they ran out of battery a while back.  they don't shine no more.  to the left is a carbon monoxide monitor, to make sure i don't get poisoned when the fire's burning.  it's a real fire, open, with a hearth and a grate and a chimney and everything.  if the dot in the middle of the detector goes black then i'm dead, or nearly dead, or could be dead if i don't do something about it.

i got a black dot right in the middle of me.  this is what people don't understand … the marble … it's hard and dense and totally fucking impenetrable.  it's got to be this way cos otherwise, when i look at that picture in the mirror, i don't know who's staring back.  it's important to know that shit, to recognise the face,

yeah, yeah.

 

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Jun 25

No Man is an Island

Glassy water. The moon glanced off the surface and spread her slight glow like a benign smile. Gulsin lay down on the beach, waiting for low tide, wrapped in his dun coloured cloak.

The injuries to his pride and body stung deep. He knew he'd feel them more keenly once he was in the water. He had no choice. When something calls it calls, loud in quiet moments and quiet in loud moments but always calling.

He stepped into the ocean. His feet curled against the pebbles and cold water. With each stride he sank deeper into his intention. The island, a foreign place, demanded intrusion. For many years he'd seen it in his dreams, imagined walking on its shores. Now, when he had to measure each step and consider his every move, it was necessary that he discover its existence.

As he walked from the waves a beautiful woman was waiting for him. She stood, long hair curling round her naked shoulders, her feet buried in tidal sand, smiling, her eyes glistening. “Good morning sire, welcome to our fair isle.”
Gulsin flicked his hair from his face and held out his hand. The woman laughed.
“Do you mock me maiden?” he asked.
“Not you, merely your formality.”
“I'm anxious that you should extend your hospitality.”
She raised her skirts to clamber over a rocky outcrop and motioned Gulsin to follow.

Sandstone gave way to sand dunes. Light grasses feathered the air. In the distance a forest rose beyond blotted meadows.

“I didn't think you'd come,” she said.
“How long have you been waiting for me?”
“Since the plague took hold.”
“The plague?”
“Yes, we are in the grip of a terrible plague. It robs our people of their will, their independence, their hope.”
“What form does this plague take?”
“Indifference. Amnesia.”

The slow slung man shifted in his bed. He had lain many days and many nights. His bloods were bad, congealed, crusted. Inside his head thoughts flowed like flooded rivers. He moaned, tried to turn, gasped a thorn filled breath.

“We have prayed for a hero, a man of substance to arrive before we disappear.”
Gulsin looked at her. He knew what it was to disappear, to be removed from life, erased like slippage taken by the sea. “Lady, my heart is broked. I cannot mend anything, let alone take the challenge to save a whole people.”
“Yet you would try,” she said, “For a prize worth owning”.
“What do you suggest?”
“If you can free my people from this plague I will be your wife.”
“For sure you're shapely and well intoned, but I don't know you.”
“There is nothing to know except that I have promised.”

The fever was high. Sweat poured from his body soaking his shirts and sheets.

“Follow the forest path by the side of the field, until you reach a stream tangled in boulders. Turn towards the sun and walk until the great mass of elders. There you will meet an old man.”

Gulsin did as he was instructed despite the increasing heat and his inevitable exhaustion. He had forgotten to bring provisions. Hunger dug into his stomach like a terrier at a rabbit hole. 'Keep pace, keep peace,” he told himself as he feet fell into a natural rhythm. Soon he was within the shade of the forest, hearing the stream chatter through its narrow winding and looking out for the elder trees. Sure enough, as the woman had promised, they rose in a clump, wide leaved and white blossomed. Sitting underneath the largest was a wrinkled man, hat pulled low over his face, legs stretched out in front of him.

Greetings were exchanged. Gulsin explained his mission. The old man nodded, considered for a moment and said “Over yonder, at the foot of those purple mountains, by the lake of many colours, you will find a standing stone marking a fountain. Next to the stone is a conch shell. Scoop some of the water and dash it against the rock then put the shell to your ear.”

Gulsin thanked the man and set off again, driven on by thoughts of the beautiful woman, how on his return he would give his hand to receive hers.

A gentle rain fell outside the cave, blowing a damp breeze within. The fevered man shivered beneath his fur skins and thrashed his stickish limbs from side to side.

At first glance the mountains had seemed close, perhaps half a day's walk, but as evening drew in around him Gulsin realised that he would have to sleep in the forest that night. Accordingly he found himself a quiet glade, a rush of swift running water, and a few berries to gulp down. It was not yet the season and they tasted bitter in his mouth.

He rose with the sun the following morning and continued on his way, stuffing moss into his boots to relieve the chaffing on his feet. By heat's height he had reached the moutains and found the standing stone. He did as he had been instructed. The conch shell against his ear whispered fleshy silence. He repeated the action. And again. And again. Nothing.

He didn't notice the old woman at first as she emerged from a hazel thicket. Nor did he notice the infant pig at her heels. He sat with his back to them both, cursing his misfortune, lamenting the lies of young women the eagerness of young men. Perhaps his father had been right. “Half-cock,” he said and Gulsin smiled a bitter smile, remembering the bearish man.

“You cannot listen with only one ear,” the old woman said.
He jumped out of his skin and up on to his feet. “Who are you? Where did you come from?”
“And you can't hear if all you ever do is ask questions.”
“What is your business here?”
“And still you persist.”
The pair eyed each other with mutual disgust. She was wizened from many years of working in the fields and bearing children. He was sweaty from many hours of a walking nightmare brought on by a fever.
“I can tell you what you want to know,” she said, spitting the words out from between her yellow teeth and cracked lips.
“Can you indeed.”
“Yes,” she said simply. With a flick of her fingers and a twirl of her pig's tail she turned him into a goose. Gilsin flapped around indignantly, squaking and thrusting his head forwards. “A wild goose chase I believe is what you have chosen,” said the old woman with a snicker of self satisfaction.
“Transform me immediately.” was what Gulsin wished to say, instead a burst of loud blasts escaped from his beak. The next moment he found himself standing, picking feathers out of his shirt, scowling.
“Have we learned our lesson.”
“I don't know,” he replied, “What were you hoping to find out?”
“Very good,” she said, nodding, laughing to herself.

“Beyond the mountains, over the heather strewn moors that only appear at twilight, there you will find the castle of Brigstone. Within those walls lives a fearful giant. We call him Voseth, he of the mighty fists and skin tearing rage. He has gorged himself on our incompetence and futile desires. At first he was a mere babe in arms, born naked and mewling. Over the decades he has become a tyrant. We believed that if we aceeded to his wishes and demands we would be safe, yet it only furthered his ambitions. Now he has laid waste to our kingdom, keeping everyone in enthralled in his jealousy and fury. Kill him and that part of you that would worship such devices and we shall be free.”
Gulsin regarded the woman with suspcion.
“It is true that I am not beautiful. I cannot promise you a reward to galvanise your loins, but I speak the truth. If you find the courage to beat this giant then you will also find the courage to conquer the beast inside yourself.”

Gulsin set off on his long trudge, heavy hearted, confused, disappointed that his quest involved such twists and turns. The young woman at the water's edge had made it seem as if problem and solution walked hand in hand. This old hag, however, gave him no such comfortable assurances. He had come too far to turn back now, empty handed and defeated. There was nothing for it but to continue.

He heard the giant before he saw him. The mighty roars and death defying stink assaulted his ears and nostrils long before Gulsin stole over the castle walls. Peasants in rude tatters ran around in the court yard. Starving cattle huddled against grease stained stones. An army of snivelling priests murmured vespers in shivering, apologetic whispers.

The young man, half frozen, half burned, twisted. Molten iron shot through his veins causing him to buck and arch and blood to rise in his throat.

“Who comes before me?” boomed the giant, “Without invitation”.
“I do,” answered Gulsin from the stone drenched threshold. The giant guffawed, slaming his ale mug down on the filthy table top. Servants, rattled by noise and size, scuttled away, anxious for their own safety. Gulsin stepepd forward. With each stride he grew taller, more strident, more salient, more tacit. “I demand audience,” he continued.
The giant lept to his feet upsetting the banquetting trestle in front of him and sending people running and sprawling. Gulsin didn't move a muscle. He waited for the things that were rolling and turning to come to a halt. He stood his ground. Seeing this insolence the giant roared once again, picking up his big wooden club and swinging it around his head. Gulsin advanced, teeth clenched, fists balled. As the club hit the floor he jumped on top of it and ran the length of its shaft, increasing in size as he did so. The giant, unable to support this extra weight, collapsed. Upon reaching his target, and before asking any questions, Gulsin drove his belt knife deep into the giant's skull. A deep renting scream filled the hall.

And the man, on the rough straw bed in the dripping damp cave, thrashed a screeching victory. Long had he lain, tortured by illness while the old woman cooked up his cures on her small fire in her black cauldron. Day after day, month after month, had she nursed him with her gnarled hands and unsmiling humour, waiting for the fever to break, the poison to run from his festering wounds. Now his time was at hand. He struggled onto an elbow, juddering, his muscles slack after weeks of coma. Squinting Gulsin looked deep into the woman's wrinkled face. “I know you,” he said.
“You have always known me,” she replied, wiping the sweat from his brow with a dirty, rough cloth, “And I have always known you”.
“Where is the beautiful girl?”
“On the beach. The old man is at the crossroads. The hag with her pig stands by the fountain and the giant is dead in his hall.”
“Where am I?”
“Wherever you want to be Gulsin.”

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Jun 20

Embarrassment

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Jun 8

15206

The Language of Burning Buildings

This one time he pressed the emergency
button. Everything stopped. The lights went off. “What the fuck
are you doing?” I screamed, because sudden blindness frightens me.
He didn't answer, instead he ran from side to side, jumping and
slamming himself into metal walls. The elevator creaked and clanged
as it bounced off the concrete shaft. “What the fuck are you
doing!” I screamed again, but that wasn't what I meant. I hadn't
asked the right question. He wouldn't answer me until I did. “Why
are you doing this?”

Why?

“Because I want to see if the thread
that's holding us up will snap.”

“Of course it'll fucking snap if you
keep putting it under stress.”

“Exactly, but [i]when[/i] and under
how [i]much[/i] stress.”

-x-

“Can I live with you?”

“Sure, but you'll have to pay to get
the lecci reconnected.”

“How much?”

“Fifty quid.”

“Alright.”

We still used candles though, because
they made the old scuffed wallpaper look better.

He'd begged, borrowed or stolen most of
his furniture, including the bed. I arrived with a stereo, a bunch
of records and a black bin-bag full of clothes. He already had
several of these, black bin-bags full of clothes, waiting to be
washed. As a consequence he wore his ex-girlfriend's knickers, blue
stripy ones. They just about held everything in, so long as he
didn't move too quickly, which he wasn't minded to do that often,
except in elevators or during sex.

Sex.

“Yes I enjoyed it,” I said, winking
at Julie, who was a lesbian in any event. She grimaced while
meticulously separating grains of cous-cous. She was also a vegan.
“You'll have to meet him.” She found his skateboarding antics
hilarious. Even his twenty year old man-surfs-a-wave-of-bullshit
amused her.

“As long as you're happy,” she
said.

“I am.”

And then his best friend told me he'd
fallen in love.

“Who with?” I asked.

Later that night we argued about
[i]her[/i] and I flounced out of the flat, half way through drying up
the dishes, tea-towel still in hand. He didn't follow me
immediately. I was under the railway bridge when he finally caught
up. “Piss off.”

“No.”

Before I could object he'd hoisted me
over his shoulder. My body folded automatically, legs hanging down
his chest and arms hanging down his back. He carried me home and I
kicked and flailed and flapped the tea-towel around. Neighbours,
those who lived in houses at the foot of the tower block, came out to
see what all the fuss was about. They clapped and cheered. I
flushed bright red. Eventually he put me down.

“Pete told me you were in love with
someone,” I said, through tears of frustration and embarrassment.

“You. Fagodsake, you.”

Life wandered on like a stray dog. We
loved each other with food preparation, penetration and provocation.

There was the time we took acid and I
leaned on the windowsill, watching nuclear waste trains pass, while
he had me from behind. And the time he snatched nearly three hundred
quid out of a shop till, because we were broke and hungry. And the
time we went to a party upstairs and he showed me what a blow-back
was, then carried me home over his shoulder again.

I got used to his shoulders. He was
skinny so his bones stuck out like a coat-hanger under a silk shirt.
He hadn't got his big man's body yet, but that was all right, because
I hadn't got my big woman's body yet either. The pair of us
resembled delinquent teenagers. Notions of responsibility hadn't
bitten down on us. Vampiric life hadn't caught up with us and sucked
us dry.

There's a period of innocence at the
beginning of adulthood, when cat shit is just cat shit and not a
representation of domestic determination, how you will become
digested and expelled. Cuddly things are cuddleable. Furry has two
'R's. You're not even aware of the code, let alone the need to break
it. Life just [i]is[/i], there to be lived and enjoyed.

Until that Friday night at the
beginning of July.

I spotted the flames first, coming out
of the thirteenth floor, as I was serving up dinner – liver and
onions. Yes we thought the stairs would be better, because the
elevator was probably compromised, its thread infinitely more
snappable now.

The stairs were full of choking black
smoke though.

Back into the flat.

“Wet cloths around our faces,” I
said, hurriedly soaking tea-towels.

We tried again. the smoke was thicker
and blacker. We couldn't see our own hands. Twenty two flights of
stairs.

Back into the flat.

“Fuck, we're trapped,” he said, but
we could already hear the nee-naw of fire engines.

“Ok, ok,” I said, 'They'll get us
out. They'll know what to do. We should shut all the doors between
us and the smoke. It's not fire that kills people, it's the smoke.
Get as many coats and towels and big things as you can. Stick them
in the bath. Cover them in water. Wring them out and give them to
me.”

I blocked up the door gaps, carefully
making sure that this insulation wouldn't prevent the doors from
being kicked in by the emergency services. We hung a red flag in the
corridor outside to alert them to our presence. Life was really
happening now.

From our vantage point in the kitchen
we could see how the flames had spread from the thirteenth floor
right down to the sixth. “Please god, let it only be on one side
of the building.”

“Doubt it,” he replied.

For a moment we were transfixed,
watching the fire and how the outside of the building was becoming
black. At the front, where the tower block opened up onto the rest
of the estate, around twenty fire engines were assembled. They
looked small from eleven floors up, little red die-cast models. And
fire makes a noise when it's eating. It roars and breathes.

There were lots of people, all the
residents, hammering and pushing and pulling at the white landscape
fence. It was only knee high, but preventing the engines getting
close to the building. Men and women were yanking at it with their
bare hands.

“They can't get to us,” I said,
feeling hot and shaky.

“Plan B,” he said, “We need a
plan B.”

“We could get the tow-rope, tie it to
the balcony, abseil down onto the balcony underneath us, hobby horse
our way to ground level.”

“Would that work?”

“Shit knows, depends on how long the
two-rope is.”

It wasn't long enough.

The fence came down to rapturous
applause. People on our estate liked clapping and cheering. It was
hurriedly flung out of the way.

Problem.

Problem solved.

And then we saw the firemen emerging
from the building in their breathing apparatus, collapsing on the
grass. “They obviously can't get through the smoke on the stairs
either,” he said. I began to take in big breaths, swallow down air
very quickly. “Don't fucking hyperventilate. It won't do you any
good. Stay calm. There's always a way out.”

“We're gonna die. We're gonna die.”

“Can you hear me? We're not going to
die.”

“Fucking hell. I'm gonna die.”

He slapped me once, hard and quick
across my face.

“CAN YOU HEAR ME? Stop panicking.”

I slid onto the floor of the balcony.

“Yes, sit there until you calm down.
Sit there and shut the fuck up.”

I was crying, little quiet tears.

“Over here,” he yelled. A fire
engine had maneuvered into position and its hydraulic lift was in
operation. But they appeared to ignore him, swinging toward the main
site of the fire. “We're trapped,” he shouted. No response. He
waved his arms. No response. He cupped his hands around his mouth
and shouted so hard it almost became a scream. No response.

“I don't think they can hear me,”
he said.

“Or they're ignoring you.”

“Why would they ignore me?”

“I don't know.”

A loud crack and crash interrupted out
conversation. On the far side of the building windows were
exploding, sending firework glass splintering to the floor. Men in
yellow uniforms moved around, apparently chaotically. Engines drove
forwards while others reversed. Local residents stared up, their
features indistinguishable.

I recovered myself. He stood drumming
his fingertips against the railings. “It's funny isn't it?” he
said “Being able to see everything that's happening but not being
able to do a damn thing about anything.”

“I'm not sure we [i]can[/i] see
everything.”

“Well most of it. Usually you only
see the little bit that directly effects you.”

We looked down. Two hundred foot below
us police officers were attempting to move residents out of the way.
Camera crews had arrived in big vans with TV company logos on the
side. Ambulances stood by, doors flung open.

“I wonder what the people on the
ground can see,” he said.

“Us probably.”

“No, I mean down there it'll be all
crowded. They won't have a bird's eye view.”

“But we can only see how hopeless it
is.”

“It's not hopeless, just difficult.”

“Do you believe in hope?” I asked.

“No. I don't believe in anything,
not hope, not luck, not fate.”

“So you think everything happens for
a reason?”

“No, I don't believe in that either.
What happens happens.”

“Do you believe in me?” I so
wanted something to believe in.

“I don't understand the question …
Oi, OI, over here.”

The fireman heard him.

“You're too far up mate. We can only
get to the ninth floor,” he shouted, pushing his helmet back so he
could see our faces.

“We've got a tow-rope.” He turned
to me. “Do you know how to tie a knot?”

I searched through my memory. I used
to go climbing. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Think so or know so?”

“I think I know so.”

“Well let's bloody hope so.”

“I thought you said you didn't
believe in hope.”

He laughed.

I worked quickly even though my hands
were shaking. The fireman had got an extendable ladder and was
standing, swaying ever so slightly, at the top of it. Two of his
colleagues clung to the bottom. He looked very precarious.

We flung the secured rope down to him,
missing the first time. Second time he caught it, tied it round his
waist, and climbed it, arriving breathless to be hauled over the
balcony. “Right then. Who's first?”

“She is.”

The rope was wrapped and knotted around
me.

“What's your name darlin'?”

“Chris, my name's Chris.”

“Don't look down Chris.”

I nodded.

“What I want you to do is climb over
the balcony and lower yourself off backwards.”

I nodded.

“There's a fireman down there called
Gary. He's going to get hold of your feet and then guide you down
the ladder.”

I nodded.

“Do you understand?”

I did as I was told.

Twenty minutes later we were both on
the ground. Concrete had never felt so good. People were running
around. It was very noisy. There was a woman on the thirteenth
floor balcony. The flat behind her was plainly on fire. She waved
her arms around. At one point it looked as if she might jump,
instead she disappeared inside. Her name was Jenny.

And then we walked to where we had
intended to go after dinner – a benefit gig – stopping off on the
way to buy Kendal Mint Cake. “Anyone in shock should eat Kendal
Mint Cake”. When we arrived people could tell something was wrong,
perhaps it was my lack of shoes, the black smudged clothes, the
vacant expressions.

“Our flat's just burned down,” he
announced. Brandys were brought. I passed clean out, coming round
being carried in his arms.

“Can we get married tomorrow?” I
asked.

“Of course.”

We didn't. It was eight weeks before
we got to tie that particular knot. Six months after that he got
sent to prison and three months after that our first child was born.
She's nearly sixteen now.

Last night we got drunk on gin, took
all our clothes off in the lounge and then he chased me out into the
back garden. It had been a hot day. I wanted to turn the hosepipe
on, instead I started crying.

“What's the matter?”

“I don't know.”

“Are you cold? You're shaking.”

“I'm scared.”

“What of?”

“Being happy.”

He picked me up, threw me over his
shoulder and carried me off to bed.

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Jun 5

the flesh

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