Gwenno had acted on instinct; rigmarole attracted her. How could she possibly deflect a situation on so many different levels? The man-boy she didn’t want to talk about, he always said that she thrived in a crisis. She wasn’t sure. He had said it full of spiteful, spit-spraying, frustrated beyond all manner of reason. He had said that if there weren’t a suitable reason, then she would create one just to feel alive. She’d argued that the majority of her crises involved him. He hadn’t appreciated it and sank back into his passive-aggressive default. Nevertheless, she had to admit she was at ease here with Rhodri.
A degree of crisis was fine by her; she de-knotted necklaces for fun and created puzzles for future solution. She dotted her life with anecdotes and conundrums and revelled in the little joys of discovering them in drawers, under beds or inside books, whilst rummaging for a cigarette. They had been her loyal hangover companions for as long as she had been drinking, always amusing her, and never hurting her.
Somewhere a clock chimed within its glass case but she didn’t count the strikes. She didn’t want to know what she was losing. She had to count something though, so she scanned fallen objects and found suitable deflections. One, clear the scene; Two, ultimate distraction; Three, placate; Four…
Rhodri and Gwenno were two individuals from an ancient civilisation. The last remaining with the implicit knowledge that there was nothing they could do to sustain themselves. Everything, but no one, certainly not each other. In spite of embracing surplus customs and rituals to honour and bind, to purge and practice, it was an esoteric knowledge that set them apart from everything whilst exacerbating their downfall.
Yet in a moment’s notice they were dragged (sometimes unwillingly and sometimes not) into the humid, constantly buzzing, over-stimulated modern world. It didn’t fit. It was as though someone had brought PlayStations and iPads into the sweat lodge. How can there be a true opportunity for progress with a distracting buzzing permeating everywhere they were and went? People were suspicious of silence in familiar places, real silence, not like when the TV has been switched off. And to find this, they’d have to venture further and further to places, it was more likely to be, which was never inside of themselves. Nobody ever thought to look inside to find it. It was like asking, ‘Where was the last place you saw it?’ Peace I mean, not silence as such. Hardly anybody can recall this. We’re more likely to find the keys to our house than internal peace.
For these last members of their race, whatever they were, if merely the last two remaining awake since the gig ended it was something. And the choice was to die or to adapt. Teetering, unsure, at this dramatic crossroads, precipitated by an internal straitjacket, it was a struggle that felt like a dance. If they learnt the steps, it didn’t have to be bearable; if executed well it could be beautiful. Yet they were yanked in opposite directions and sinking slowly down, slithering into an opacity that was beyond them. They could have spoken about it but it didn’t seem the right time. The morning was pulling them quickly now, through its cool and fragrant bosom, toward the high sun. Nothing would ever be said at this time of day that could mean as much to either of them.
So she tiptoed, a ballet dancer’s reminiscence, graceful and stunning, feeling her ankles wake up and their knees brushing. Her eyes were dry yet wide. She saw his look change imperceptibly. He wasn’t anguished. He took her arm and held it with such a soft grasp, droplets of her blood rolled down the heel of his hand. There was still a space between them, there had to be. Only arms entwined and lips meeting. Where would it lead them? They had thought about this before but nothing was ever that clear.
Gwenno wished that she could blink and wake up in Tuscany mist rising from the vineyards whilst wandering through sleepy villages seduced by the Tuscan lilt, she didn’t know the words; they could be saying to another to clean the maledetto bins. She loved melodic and difficult equally. It was her story and that of all the people she had met. It was easier not to know them very well at all, so that they remained for her these enigmatic features of the world or obstacles that she could weave around to reach anywhere else. Then, that she could dwell in the beauty of all that she didn’t understand.
Rhodri didn’t know where he would go if he had the choice. Perhaps he would wake in some unknown location, a language he had never heard, no obvious indication of anything. Life would be pushing him right to the very edge, perhaps from out of a plane thousands of feet over no man’s land. He opened his eyes in the messy kitchen that he would never tidy up. He preferred cleanliness to tidiness and they weren’t the same thing at all. He realised that he didn’t care much for cleanliness, either.
Gwenno wasn’t smiling; she was looking at him as though she had something profound to say. To him. Then she frowned, cocked her head to one side to listen, and asked, “Seriously are your neighbours playing panpipes?”