I want you
He's lying there. And he's talking.
Yeah, we can talk about Love if you want to. Love......."
"I wake up at 10.20, Saturday morning, and, as per usual, roll over to feel her warmth. And find myself falling into the depression left by her body, the lack of her. It's still warm. She hasn't been up long"
"It felt comfortable?" I ask.
"Very" he says, and continues. "mmm, so i lie there a bit, but i can never stay there for long if she isn't lying next to me. Doesn't feel right, you know?"
"She's comfort - warmth?"
"yes, she is, she's a refuge, she's somewhere i can go"
He pauses. His voice catches on the last words. Then it all comes out, slowly at first, but ever stronger.
"We aren't students anymore, but i guess you could say the house where we live is still very much a student house. I don't know, maybe it's something about how relaxed it is, there's books everywhere, always. Or maybe it's something to do with the houses' personality. Maybe it's trivial little shit, you know, where other professional couples would have a tasteful print, we have a giant signed poster of Vic and Bob - stuff like that, you know?"
"yeah, carry on"
"She isn't downstairs either, when i stagger down all bleary eyed and dazed. I'm not much of a morning person, i admit. I go into the kithen, knock on the coffee, and use the remote to switch on the CD."
"I'm sensing that cultural things are important to you"
"Oh yes, definetly. Pop culture, i suppose. Part of it is the way it links you with other people, it links me with her, our shared tastes. Like, the cd that's playing is Bjork. I love Bjork. She loves Bjork. A bond. She got me the album when we first started going out. It's lovely."
"Ok. So, what happens next?"
"Mmm, i'm swilling the coffee round my mouth - industrial strength, and Bjork is singing, beautiful little song called 'like someone in love' - you know it?"
"Not a fan. I'm a bit older than you"
"True. Ah, it's lovely. Anyway, it's playing and i am knocking back the coffee and wandering into the lounge and humming along"
"Ah yes, the lounge"
"I hate that word, don't you? As a room description, i mean"
"Never given it much thought, to be honest with you"
"It's - i don't know - pretentious, i think. You can't even use an argument that says 'you call it the lounge because you lounge there' because if you followed that logic, the bedroom would be called 'the sleep' and you would call the bathroom 'the shitter'"
"I know people who do"
"hah, true. I just find it pretentious and inelegant"
"Anyway, in the lounge is where i find her note"
"There, i've said it. Doesn't sound too bad, does it? Could be a note saying 'gone shopping darling, didn't wake up my baby bearkins, love and hugs'. Or it could be more prosaic 'Sam phoned, gone out with her, feed cat' Or just 'don't forget to pay the milkman'. Could be any of those"
"Till you read it"
"yes, till i read it. Until that point, its like that cat in that box, the physicist guy - what was his name?"
"yes, Schroedinger. We don't know whether it's dead - the cat - until we open the box. Likewise, the note. We don't know the notes content until we read it. Schroedingers' uncertainty note, hmmmm?"
I smile at him. He shifts and continues.
"Only we do know, don't we? It's more than a note telling me to pay the milkman, or i wouldn't be lying here on your couch, drinking your coffee - nice by the way - is it Columbian?"
"Heh, always expect PC from someone in your line of work. Anyway, we know that the note is a big deal. We know that the cat, so to speak, is dead."
"The note tells us that"
"It does indeed"
"Tell me about the note"
He sips from the coffee and makes a satisfied noise.
"So, i sit down and i read the note. It has to be done, to satisfy narrative form if nothing else"
I smile again at this. He really is quite entertaining. Considering.
"And you and i both know the result. The note says she's leaving me. It says she doesn't love me anymore. It says she is not sure if she ever did. But, even if she did, she has no idea now what that felt like. It says that she has found someone else, someone who can provide her with all that she doesn't get from me - that 'spark' i believe is the word she uses"
"How does that make you feel?"
He snaps at me.
"Let me finish with the note"
"Heh, don't be. It says that she will always think of our time together fondly, and that in time my pain will heal, and thats she's sorry, and that i am a special person, and thats she's sorry, and that i should never forget how special i am, and that she's sorry, and that i will be fine once the shock wears off, and thats she's sorry and that she's sorry and that she's sorry."
"Ok, how does that mak"
He interrupts me angrily, raising himself from the couch.
"Let me finish. Let me fucking finish"
I raise my hands to show i am not fighting him and he settles down.
"Who knows how long i sit there, staring at this traitorous piece of paper, feeling - what? - i don't think i can explain it, words are not enough, numb. hollow.empty. angry. sad. numb. depressed. angst-fucking-ridden. numb. incredulous. shocked. hurting. numb. numb."
To be honest, i feel it's a bit rich of me to write "felt numb" down on my pad, but i do.
"You see? I can't. I can't express it. Feeling an incredible pain yet, at the same time, feeling nothing. I felt hollow, as though i had no stomach, and yet, at the same time, i felt incredibly nauseous"
I think it would be unwise of me to ask "how did that make you feel?" at this point, so i just sit there silently waiting for him to carry on.
"As i said, i don't know how long i was there, but when i came out of it, the album had finished. Now there was a silence. A horrible silence."
He stares off into space for a few seconds, then sips the coffee reflectively.
"Can i have a cigarette?"
I reach for my packet and give him one, lighting up myself. He has obviously not smoked for a while because he coughs with the first inhalation, quite nastily.
"The note said she was going to come back in a couple of hours to pick up some stuff, and she would prefer it if i wasn't there"
This time, i can't resist.
"So, what did this make you feel like?"
"Well, at first, i sit there and i think 'hell no! Why should i?' - first i go through anger - this is textbook stuff, by the way, you should be noting this down - Why should i leave the house so she can do this, so she can get away with it, without any of the emotional shit that i get?"
He chuckles. It's not a pleasant sound.
"Then comes an indifferent phase. I'll be sat here, and she'll come in, and she'll be all guilty, and i will be reading a book, or reading the paper, and i will look up and say 'oh, hi' and then return to it, and she will be crushed - CRUSHED - by how calm i was, how little it meant, because - HAH - i am above all that"
"Of course, i am not above all that. Sadly.Then comes the denial phase, late on for such a basic human reaction - we all deny unpleasant truths, don't we? That's how we keep sane, don't you think?"
"I really couldn't comment on that"
"Hah! Surely you of all people could?"
"Mmmm, i would say, really, that denial isn't healthy"
"More fool you then. I'm sitting there an i am thinking she will come in, and she will see me, and something, some resolve, will break in her. She will realise she has been fooling herself, that she loves me, that she always has and always will love me, and she will come to her senses. And, after toying with her for a bit - come on, she's just put me through this, i am getting some sort of revenge in this fantasy - i will forgive her, what true man wouldn't? And we shall stare at each other for a few seconds in rapt, mute, mutual adoration, and then, then we'll rip off each other's clothes, and fuck like animals, all around the house, feverishly, in every nook and cranny, christen every item of furniture. And we'll do all these things in bed i have secretly always wanted to do - bad things, perverse things, obscene things, kinky things, all day and all night for the rest of my life"
"Tell me of the things?"
"Another time. Let me finish this."
"After that, there comes a phase where i am questioning. She's never loved me? Why? Is there something wrong with me? Why is she rejecting me? Am i so bad? What is this spark? It's been fine for the past five years, all through our last year in college and since. Now suddenly she wants a spark? No one told me, see, no one told me they wanted a spark. If i had known that, then for fucksake i would have kindled one, you know? Just why? Why?"
"Do you know why?"
"I'm still baffled by it, to tell the truth. Completely baffled."
"and then, ten minutes or so before she returns.....at just about the wrong time, comes the return of anger. Not the heated, passionate, slightly defensive anger of before. That was a reaction, that was a defence, protecting myself through anger. This is something different"
"It's cold. Very cold. Cold and clinical rage"
He stops quietly for a moment.
"You know the rest, i suppose. Otherwise we wouldn't be sitting here, me drinking your very nice Nicaraguan coffee, you smoking those atrocious cigarettes - Gauloise?"
"You'll be able to winkle more stuff out of me given time - heh, thats the one thing i have now, is time"
He looks straight at me for the first time.
"Love?" he says "Love is pain. I think i proved that quite conclusively at the end. I think that was the last lesson she ever learned. I could see it in her eyes"
With that he goes silent, and doesn't speak anymore until the guards come to return him to his cell.