Friday, September 10, 2004
I wrote a short story today after ages. A bit mushy, yes, but would appreciate comments, all the same.
Get carried away in love, the novels urge, and yet I wonder what they all mean, she thought, smoothening out her dress, straightening out her hair, arranging the flowers on the table. How do you get carried away in a love that is supposed to sweep you off by its own swift accord, pulling and tugging, till you have no breath left to resist, she questioned, untying the apron that clung to her starched grey dress. It was a gimmick, an illusion, she decided, and yet, how I long for that myself.
How I hated her for telling me she loved me, he thought, tugging on his tie, arranging an intricate knot around his throat. It was never meant to be, hours of conversation, yes, and hours of love-making, but never anything more than that. And yet, she moans out in my arms, when I least expect her to, she moans out, breathes out, whispers out, and worse, she means all of that - those three dangerous little words.
Terrifying, he thought, tying his shoelaces now. Terrifying, he thought, looking at the maid set the dahlias straight on the breakfast table outside. Terrifying, he thought, listening to his wife singing that croon of hers in the morning room. Why on earth did she have to do that?
She made me believe, and that was the problem, he thought now, frowning in the mirror. A hair was out of place, and he carefully, delicately, set it immaculate. Gleaming, glittering, that was how she had made love to him, how she had seemed to embody all of that he had never hoped to have... and as she went on, telling him, day after day, night after night, she loved him, she loved him, o, she loved him, I began to believe - he looked at himself in the hall mirror. I began to believe. And my crime was, that I did not really, truly love her, but I told her I did, and when I left her, I broke her heart, but I broke my own o, so very much. He plucked a dahlia out from the bunch on the table.
It was a lark, a joke, a fling, that liberated me, because it showed me a side of myself that I never thought was there, she thought, drinking vodka at nine am. I never wanted to do all that, but no, I did, because I loved doing it all with him, she faltered, staring out of the window, a glorious June morning, that even had that o-so cliched bird singing outside her window.
He was good looking, and I could not believe it when he showed such an obvious interest in me, when he wanted me, when he asked me to kiss him in the back of the cab, back from the party, when he asked me to be with him till the next day, when he wanted me to come to him, just then, just now, no delays, no putting off.
It was a kind of urgency we had, because we knew from the beginning it was not meant to be, and even though I knew it was not meant to be, never meant to be, I could not stop myself from tasting his self-assuredness, touching his frivolous peacock feathers and feeling the thrill that comes with exhibitionism. She touched the lace of her curtain, and sipped at the cold tea that lay on the low stool. The vodka bottle, small and silver, shaped like a bullet, with a sting that burnt and enflamed her core stood there like a burnished placebo now. And here she was, looking out of the window at a perfect morning, wondering whether she had ever been in love, whether she had lied when she had told him and herself that, given a few more weeks, she might have ended up being....
The car revved up and roared away, and she saw her husband's head of gleaming, immaculate hair through the half-open front-seat window. From somewhere, she could smell dahlias, and she thought, aaaa, thank heavens for that girl.
Get carried away in love, the novels urge, she thought, and yet here I am alone, because I was getting to want him too much. She took the leaves and the too-long stalks she had snipped with her little pair of gleaming scissors and went out into the garden to dispose of them. A beautiful morning, and a bird singing, and a world of sunlight, and yet, how does all of that measure up to the fact that the novels got it all wrong, she mused.
I told myself to be on guard when I first met him, I knew that he would go, that he would flit, and I would try to float along too, but would probably not manage, and so I warned myself to stay disaffected, away from him, away from what I could feel, what I knew I was capable of feeling. Was it that I was suddenly attracted to the idea of being with someone, doing things with someone, seeing movies, dark halls, holding hands, linking heads, touching in the dark, sipping coffee together, eating chocolate together, talking late into the night, pressed against his body, so that I could feel his heartbeat even louder than my own - when did all of that suddenly become so important to me, she mused.
She frowned now, and slowly sat down on the steps that led into the house, straightening her grey uniform, brushing her toes against each other inside her tapered black shoes. It was morning still, early morning, she meant to say, and she still had a single dahlia in her hand. Bright pink, furry, like an animal, slender like a rose, living like her heart.
He said he was not in the same space with me, as I was obviously so ready to be with him. He said, he could not imagine being serious with me, and yet when he said all that, I did not even cry a tear, while I cried buckets for that other young man who met me daily and took me to the movies and then to his bedroom. I had cried a lot then, she remembered, and her features softened suddenly at the thought of remembered emotions, and yet, why did I not react like that when he told me, last night, that it was over? I laughed then, I hugged him, I told him, I knew it would never work out long before – perhaps, because I did - and I left him. He called me, and I spoke to him, he called me his 'ex' and I asked him when we would go for that other movie at the Bistro, and yet, here I am, sitting on the steps, with a dahlia in my hand.
When, o when, will I get carried away in love, she wondered, sniffing the wan smell, hearing the woman on the first-floor landing snuffle slowly in her dressing gown, recognising the faint whiff of the vodka in the silver bullet.
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