13th February

Solid as Life

Sometimes you just don’t know someone. You think you do, but no, it’s a mirage. They’re right in front of you, you can reach out and touch them, and the next thing they’re gone. What happened? Nobody can tell you. It just happened. That person stopped being who you knew. They just stopped.

I’m only saying this because what trust can you put in another human being? You live with them, eat with them, sleep with them, you watch TV and go drinking together, you sit together at the pictures, in the park. Everything. You wash their clothes, you smell their shit, you know every noise their body makes. And they know you. There isn’t a thing they don’t know about you, that’s what you believe.

Then one day, out of nowhere, they say, Sorry, it’s over. You say, What? They say, I can’t do this. Do what? You have no idea what they are talking about because you never heard this before, not from them, not a distant rumble of it, but then you understand, you understand precisely, because this isn’t the first time for you, far from it, and they’re staring at you as if it were you who spoke, you who broke the spell, if it was a spell. Then you hear a voice, yours: Don’t you want to be here? And you know the answer before they say it. No. Not with you. It’s no good any more.

You cry, inside, outside, one or the other or both. Maybe they don’t go right then, or maybe they already went in every way except physically. They already packed their belongings and this is them signing off. So this isn’t the start of a fight, or of trying to mend what’s broken, it’s the end, the parting shot, and you didn’t see it coming, just like before.

For a while after they’ve gone there are little wisps of them hanging about, and then nothing, like they were never here. But they were. You know because you look in the mirror and you’re different without them. You’re still here, solid as life. But in every way except physically, no, it’s not you at all.

Reader: Kate Molleson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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