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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Thursday, 16 November 2006

bits of fiction: (I can't write what I wanted to write today - which was some comedy. Maybe tomorrow...)

by Susan Abraham

...Last night I thought of you, Vincent.

I would not shake you from under the blankets. What if you vanished again? Instead, I lay still in the frost of my Melbourne dawn, burnt cigarette in hand; my heart seeing what my eyes could not.

I dreamt that you kissed me except your lips hurt mine.

Like the burn of lightning and shard of glass to cut skin, I swallowed a rush of pain. Then I tasted my bleeding.

I thought I saw you wear my crucifix. It shone with a sliver of light on blood. It teased and threatened to tickle tears. Of course, you were unaware.

You were an actor in a film. Cheered on by a crowd that fringed your adulation at a premiere, you marched straight ahead. I waited, despondent. You looked blind to my hope. You were never a sentimentalist but still I trembled. What if in catching my eye, you were too blunt to be gracious or in catching my tears, too cold for a measured compassion?

I am thrown back into that that long December day five years ago, when at 38, you went away, lugging a packed museum of sentiments. I remember my sadness at your unrehearsed rush.

My shock when I grabbed your arm and your haste when in this sudden struggle, you toppled my coffee. The hot fluid spiralled upwards, and then shot down. My teacup crashed to the floor. Its ear-splitting wail thundered the volume of my fears. I stared dazed at this flood of black spill and scattered smithereens.

I grappled with my strange new abandonment.

You, on the other hand, dodged my astonishment and stayed blind to my disbelief.

You chose to say nothing except to offer a small tight smile and mull at the possibility of a cruel handshake.

Your eyes softened, hardened, receded, then turned away. You straightened your shoulders and brushed your collar free of any leftover reminiscence. To the unseen stranger, you appeared to stride off with alacrity, so deft were your movements.

Of course, I understood.

Never one for a romantic prose, the shameless emotions that tumble out clumsily from a farewell, terrified you. It choked your conscience. Still, I could hear noisy sentiments in your heart, tremble for a last embrace. What torment! But such is the music of a haphazard waterfall; the dancing rapids from its well of tears...

Now, solitude came to greet my sorrow with clammy hands. We playacted defacto partners on a dark cloud. In a hastily-built chasm, we waited together, for the inevitable.

Stunned by your frostiness and this unwelcome chill, I watched, paralysed as you slunk by like a ghost. And all the while, hurrying to dissolve behind the door.

In this minute slice of time, I believed I would turn old, forever.

Another Part to the Fiction

... There was that sadness in your eyes that only mine could recognise. Then unseeing and uncaring, you had brushed my shoulder and almost stepped onto my falling shawl. In a collapse of merriment, soft folds of pink lace slipped like dust to the ground.

Not yet rescued, my shawl lay mute and clumsy, drowned in loneliness.

Yet, you had once fingered this wistful veil like lost gems.

Weighing it with delicate twists and tossing my beautiful fabric with light upward swings like a matador, you had conducted a fierce inspection with the usual dexterity. Reading glasses slipped on to frown at a tiny tear. Labels flicked over for a quick check. Thoughts pensive and hesitant. Just in case. A pragmatist, you were always careful like that.

But uncaring of its history and in a wild attempt to rescue the shawl, I had snatched it quickly, burying my face into this masquerade of roses, tasting its make-believe scent, and baptising my ownership with unexpected grace. A startling effrontery on my part but forgivable. No doubt, my effusive gratitude was rewarded quickly by a perplexed stare and guilty smile that paid its full penance. Thank you, darling.

Or don’t you remember.

Strolling along Oxford Street on a September twilight in London, we had been confronted by a haphazard rainbow of woollies and cashmeres. Unable to resist this gay assortment that matched the vibrancy of my romance, I had freed myself from under your arms, dashed past an exodus of tourists, dropped a glove and run laughing into the Marble Arch store.

Now surprised, you accelerated your steps.

You hated it every time I raced off without warning and then remembering, swung around midway to catch your eyes. No doubt, I conceded it to be a bad habit. In this case, excitement had pulled my hand, inciting me to breach a promise. I flashed a look of shame but proceeding to try indulgence and kindness; you marched dutifully in, reached for your wallet and appeared cheerful in the circumstances.

Of course, it would have been easy to lose me in the crowd. Up and down they sped, like an arty film reel running on fast-forwards. The hazy scene mirrored melting images into the fading day.

In the shop, a sallow-faced middle-aged woman sat quarrelling with her husband.

“Poverty and hard times, so we run away,” the Albanian woman lamented. Her furtive glances missed nothing. “You don’t know the half of it,” she whispered. And all this before the war. Seduced by the make-believe mist in her eyes, you finally relented.

Later, oblivious to the looks of the bored couple, you wrapped the expensive shawl around me with the same careful tenderness with which an artist would dress its toy.

Enraptured and drugged by love, I appealed for the unexpected.

How did you know I desired to strip with a vengeance? To shed my clothes like a chameleon undresses in daylight. A crab has more dignity and hides away. I have none.

My hidden senses begged to be babied with this fabric as a sheath for hot flesh, over my eager body. Closed eyes to rock my teasing passion and caresses to heighten yours. Your skin to iron mine, steamed with ardour, sweaty with scent, drained in strength.

I longed for you to shield me with your face and arms, holding me so tight; I would drink your breath and abandon mine. I wanted you to veil the light on my face that had turned astonishing and mysterious. ...

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