In collaboration with Jane Astley…
He skirted his foot around shards of glass glinting on the floor. He ought to tidy up. But he wouldn’t. It was better to leave it than to risk compounding the hopelessness from pieces that no longer fitted together. Irreparable, the insides shining outward.
Where was the wine he’d opened? Oh yeah, that’s right. His feet shuffled. He eyed the coffee table. Ten empty wine bottles stood neatly in a row – he liked rows and tiers and rows – the labels aligned and facing forward. What an excellent Spruce windbreak they would have made in an alternate reality, in his open field. Again the routine yearning for protection in the only place clinging to his meaning. Too many possessions and memories, one and the same.
The excess caused perspiration, he headed to the door with a sudden urgency. He would go tonight. At the least he could rely on the sly common denominator, he was always there.
The phone shrieked in the airless room. He paused to answer it. This time he knew that she wouldn’t speak. She’d listen to his quiet, his non-quiet. She would pick through the aural nuances of his pseudo-upbeatness. Silently she formulated hypotheses on the outcomes before hanging up.
It was just another day. No worries then. He exhaled. Life was waiting, somewhere the other side of the garden wall.
She left without looking, but the pain continued, she would need to rub them again. Why doesn’t he get up? How can a man with so many thoughts have so few words to say to me. She moved the bunched up material below her hips in a figure of eight. Still it wasn’t far to walk and then she could sit down and then she would wait. The late, low evening sun caught the corner of her and she squinted for some seconds, but saw the sign clearly, saw the source of the reflection and looked inside. She liked bitter and she liked the garden and she would have a smoke. She got a pint and walked through the bar, through the lounge, through the covered outside, muralled wall and saw a bench with a giant umbrella and a full ashtray. She crossed her legs an looked at the chip in the polish on her big toe – paradoxal purple – as it peeped above the platform and her heel sunk into the grass. Someone sat down, but said nothing. He spilled my pint into the ashtray as he reached across with a light. He said it didn’t matter but looked beyond her and she looked past his shoulder at the couple behind him who weren’t lovers like that, but one more drink with rocks and besides it would still be alright.