0 Years and 0 Months
6 Years and 4 Months
12 Years and 9 Months
19 Years and 1 Months
25 Years and 5 Months
31 Years and 10 Months
38 Years and 2 Months
44 Years and 7 Months
50 Years and 11 Months
57 Years and 3 Months
I remember how innocuous it’ll seem. It’ll start out like a normal conversation: plodding pedestrian-like down the slow lane. And then, with the kind of motion that widens the eyes, it’ll veer right, cutting across several lanes of traffic, clipping a truck on the way, but staying, how the heck!, upright, then slamming into the central barrier, teetering on two wheels before finally ‘righting’ itself smack-bang in the midst of the frantic rush of the fast-lane. Ninety-nine miles per hour with nowhere to go but Rage City.
From ‘what do you want for dinner, dear?’ to ‘I want a divorce’ in sixty spite-filled seconds.
‘What?! Because I want you to decide what we’re having for dinner?’
‘Yes. No! Because I have to decide everything; and I’m sick of it!’
‘Aw, c’mon, it’s hardly everything,’ grabs at the closest memory and flings out: ‘I decided what we watched on TV last night.’ Expression struggling for smooth but falling into ruffian.
‘Yeah, your favourite programmes! I didn’t even get to watch Strictly!’ A face twisted by a longing for colourful costumes and elegant glides.
‘But you recorded it!’ Logic, the last refuge of the criminally psychotic.
She’ll throw down her phone, but oh so carefully onto the cushioned sofa and stand to face me, her eyes barely reaching up to my shoulder but her anger exploding beyond the limits she will have promised herself that she’ll never pass. A clenched fist; eyes narrowed that they show the barest glitter of tears and yet wide enough to let in all the pique and perversity they could and would collect.
‘You’re not worth it,’ a measured start, ‘you’re not worth the twenty three years I’ve given you,’ fingers unfurl; a stab at my breast but aimed at my heart, ‘you’re not worth the words I’ve wasted on you,’ louder now. A step closer. A heat and a spread-fingered push against my chest, ‘you’re not worth my words. You’re a worm. A miserable worm and if I never say anything to you again …’
‘Then shut your face then.’ Not anger, but calculation. Nothing like the passion and commitment that I should, but will rarely show her. Nothing of my heart. Just a blunt tool to achieve a blunt result: a quiet life.
And it’s this longing for a quiet life that’ll bind me more to habit and the long and distant vista of an empty heart than any other thing. And it’s not even to be a real longing. Just a shadow of a memory of a promise not kept.
I can remember now what I’ll want and I can remember what I’ll think that I’ll want. A never-needing river of life is my vision and yet, when I move past the last squeeze and crush into a space of light and love, these memories will leave me and I’ll cry once and for all through those three-score and ten. It’ll start with a squawk and continue with a constancy of complaint. Key-ah, key-ah, key-ah; the ugliness of catch and release of air in the throat. All those words and each fed through a filter of forgetful and hurt.
‘Yeah, you’d like that wouldn’t you. You’d like me to play housewife. To cook your meals and clean your house …’
‘… and wipe your arse when you get old and sick and you’ll leave me.’
This last with a wailed shout and a palm slammed against my chest with the strength of the frustrations of years behind it. The table won’t have been built to take the sudden impact of my weight against its trinket-laden top and it’ll collapse with a crash that’ll startle the Dawsons from their place by the wall, ears agog, to start towards their phone, where they’ll snatch it from one to the other in their haste to call the police to come, come quick, he’s murdering her!
The ambulance will win the race by a bare minute. Time enough for the paramedics to rush in; shut the door why don’t you, snip through the belt and the back of my pants and, without warming her hands, probe at the bones at the bottom of my spine. And it’ll be then, with her hand on my arse, that the police will arrive and my wife will slip past them and walk, with the air of a woman going to meet her lover, towards the waiting taxi. Going, gone and never to return.
63 Years and 8 Months
70 Years and 0 Months