d came to see me, a few days later. l was out - at the shops, or perhaps at work.
she wanted to talk about something inconsequential - graduate school, or switching jobs. we sat down in the dining room, its safety witnessing our conversation.
the huge wooden table, covered on that day by a pale blue, embroidered tablecloth (much like the ones that my grandmother used to make, lovingly, to her death), separated us as she started talking.
what she really wanted to talk about, of course, was her writing.
'i hate my writing,' i said. 'how can you expect me to like your's?'
she looked distraught - as if she was suddenly lost, not sure of where the exits are, not sure where she got on.
i took her hand, unthinkingly.
'i didn't mean it like that,' i said, softly.
that was when she kissed me.
i held her hand tighter.
'i don't think you realise what happened, back there,' she said, afterwards.
'in the dining room? i think i'm fairly certain.'
'no - i mean before that. before . . . all this,' she said, gesturing to the furniture, the cabinets, the tiny crystal figurines mounted on carefully placed doilies, a menagerie of marriage.
'that,' i said. 'yes. . i'm sure that i don't know what happened, back there.'
'i loved you, you know,' she said, simply.
'you didn't,' i said, just as simply. 'you love ideas, d. you love stories. you love tragic fairy tales and grand gestures, you love telling stories, and you never . . you never saw me.'
'i knew you better than her.'
'noone knows me better than l. you know someone - a ghost, maybe. someone who exists only in between what i said, and what i wrote.'
'isn't that important?'
i kissed her hands, gently, and told her something that i had never told her before. that loving her had been like talking to the voices. they never talked back to who you were - only to what they saw. and between my demons and her ghosts, i was lost. always lost, never quite sure of where i stood, and when the rug would be pulled out from beneath my toes. that if i had kept loving her, i would have ended up caught in between illusions, never quite certain if what i was saying was me, him, or someone else entirely. and never quite sure, when she took my hand, of what it meant.
how can you live like that.
the tear cut across her left cheek, but she seemed quite unconscious of it. i took her hand, again.
l walked in a few minutes later, back from the world outside all this.
'i got you some strawberries,' she said. 'i know how much you love them.'
- sit down with me, and let the time pass away -