Fifteen

Yesterday evening I had this feeling that I would see you.

It had been raining all day, a constant grey blurring of the world. But around five o’clock the skies cleared, blueness returned, and sun shone down on the city, making the wetness glitter.

I’d had this yearning sensation; it was like a pull, tugging at me – drawing me outside. I followed after it, scenting it out, hunting it.

There was a heady scent in the air – the fragrance of Linden trees. Sex, it smells like – like fresh jism.

I started off down the road, walking like I had somewhere to be.

I had this feeling that if I was out and about, I might find you, walk right into you.

It was stupid, I know. But the feeling of you was so strong that this small superstitious part of me excitedly convinced the normally-sensible rest that it had to be listened to – I had to just keep walking until I found you. I was buoyed up with it, bursting with energy…

Every time I turned a corner I was expecting to find you.

I kept walking and it kept getting darker and you kept not being there…

My feet began to ache; my heart was gradually sinking; it was getting cold.

Eventually I came to the river, and that seemed like a good bet, reigniting my conviction.

You’d always loved the river.

I mean to say; you love the river. If I suggest going for a stroll, you’d say “let’s do the riverside walk”, knowing that you could convince me by turning it into a pub crawl, luring me with a pint at The Grapes…

The sun had vanished behind a phallic vista of cranes and half-built skyscrapers, vying fraternally to be the tallest. The glorious flush of colours in the sky were reflected eagerly by the stirring waters.

I tried to keep hoping, but I was deflating with the oncoming darkness. By the time I got to Greenwich it was gone, like you, and I was almost empty.

*

I checked the flat briefly, just in case. Keith’s planning to do it up before letting it out again, so he can triple the rent, he told me merrily. I was surprised he hadn’t bothered to put extra security on the doors – he’ll get squatters.

It hardly took three seconds to assert that there’d been no sign of you. It was too cold, dark and vacant; it smelt stale and abandoned.

Then I went to see Vivien. And you know how I feel about mothers.

She was my very last resort; would have been yours too, I assumed.

I wanted so much for you to be there – dour and disgruntled amongst the chintz, all your stuff crammed into the box room as you’d been ousted from your own original bedroom, now converted into Viv’s ‘craft’ room.

Was there ever a less artistic woman than your mother? Do you know that she’s made a cross-stitch tapestry of her own vagina and hung it in the kitchen?

I knew that if you weren’t there then we’d have to have that conversation. The one where I admitted to not knowing where you were. And that she would blame me.

From the arch of surprise her carefully-drawn-on eyebrows made on opening the door to me, I knew that the solitary last hope was dashed; we’d be having that conversation.

She showed me in, sat me down, made me tea, laying a heavy, stifling blanket of forced-civility over the atmosphere, as pungent as her offensively floral choice of  perfume.

She looked at me, her eyes so like yours, a frown creasing the moisturised flesh and let me know how low, how loathsome, how pathetic and vile I was.

“Where the fuck is my daughter?”

And truly, I deserved it, and I felt the guilt sing in every cell of my body.

“How did this happen?” she snapped. “Why weren’t you looking after her?”

I did try to explain about the coma, but she wasn’t having any of it.

“Don’t be ridiculous. People don’t come out of coma’s, you little liar; you’ve been watching too many soap-operas.”

I didn’t bother to tell her that I never watch television. I stopped making excuses altogether and let her pour out her bile; I drank it down with my tea, nodding in agreement, accepting her biting chastisements.

Because she was right. It was my fault. I didn’t take care of you. I lost you.

*

Rather than head back into town, I returned to the bare flat. The desolation of it seemed more fitting to my mood. I switched my phone off, knowing that Marina would be furious with me, but not particularly caring for the moment.

The electricity had been cut, but a nostalgic orange glow came through from the streetlights, casting a sepia hue over the living room. I wrapped myself in a ragged old throw from the sofa which you used to use as a shawl, convincing myself that it still smelt of you, though in reality it was probably just the fabric softener.

I sat in the semi-darkness and thought about you.

This morning it was raining again, grey and forsaken, as though the world was joining in mourning with me.

You know me, better than anyone. You know what a selfish, callous person I am, truly, deep down, under the smile.

How long can I last? How long can I keep feeling the guilt and the void of you? How long until I give up and choose to forget you?

I never could keep my promises.

I’m wavering…

I miss you so much.

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