Now: A Piece of Very Serious Literature.
(i.e. the story of my breakup)
(i.e. the worst breakup ever)
Here it is:
Here you are:
A Woman. Sitting next to a Man.
Here there are:
1. 16 Moths
2. 2 Train Tickets
3. 2 Known Mice
1. One suitcase
2. One bottle of wine
It is Easter and the Man and the Woman are going on a trip. This is something they do at Easter. Or rather, it is something they have done every Easter since they met. They look forward to it. It’s not always that a Man and a Woman their age get to stay in a house that is not their home.
Train leaves: 9.30AM
The Man says things to the Woman.
The Woman says things to the Man.
The Moths lay their eggs.
The Man stands.
The Man leaves.
The Woman stays.
The Woman is not going on the trip, after all.
Woman stares at wall.
Woman walks to grocery store.
Woman returns with shopping.
Woman eats Easter Bunny.
Because it is Easter, the Woman is alone. At Easter, people visit their families, and the Woman does not have family. The Woman has friends, but her friends are away, and the Woman does not want the fact of her loneliness revealed to them.
To pass the time, the Woman runs. She is not, by disposition, a runner, so running is not something she does well. She improvises. She has seen others in her neighbourhood run, so she runs in the manner they run, and she goes in the directions they go.
On a river path south of the Thames there is a tree, and that tree has a root, and that root pushes out of the earth just enough that a woman of average height with shoes sized USA 6 can, under the right circumstances, trap her foot underneath it, and fall in such a way that a small bone inside her snaps.
This is how the Woman falls:
1. The Woman stands
2. The Woman cannot stand
3. The Woman screams
4. A Stranger stops
5. A Stranger doesn’t stop
6. Strangers come
7. Strangers go
Next to a river path south of the Thames there is a pub, and to this pub, the Woman goes. People try to talk to her, but she says nothing. She is not someone who likes talking to Strangers in pubs. She thinks that someday, when she is an old woman, they will stop talking to her. Then she will go more frequently.
One drink later:
The Woman removes her foot from its shoe and studies it. People look away. It isn’t nice to see the naked feet of others, so no one looks except her. She looks. And she sees that it does not look good.
This is what happens when a small bone inside your foot breaks
and a man has left you
and it is Easter
and you were supposed to go away
but you did not go away.
This is how it goes:
1. You call the Man
2. The Man does not pick up
3. You call again
4. And once more
5. Until you realise
6. You can no longer call this Man
7. Because this Man has chosen to be A Man and not Your Man
8. And so you are alone
9. And your foot is not his problem
10. And your heart is not his problem
11. It’s your foot
12. It’s your heart
13. And this is You without Him
14. And this is how
15. You call a taxi
16. And go to the hospital
17. And get an X-Ray
18. And make a series of unnecessary follow-up appointments
19. With the bitter receptionist
20. And the kind nurse
21. And the tired doctor
22. And the taxi driver, who takes you home
23. This is you, alone
And this is it.
The worst breakup ever. The one that happened to me. I like to think that it is worse than the breakups that happen to other people. It’s not just sad. It’s very sad. I’d like others to acknowledge this. To concede that—as I always suspected—it is a particular kind of hell, being me.
But when I tell the story, I see the Woman as if she is someone else. As if she is not me, and I am watching her. Then, I can see that what happened was very ordinary.
I broke my foot because I fell, as people fall.
Within a week I walked. Within a month, I ran.
Now, I feel a dull ache south of my ankle when I walk long distances. I feel it when the weather is cold. Also when I dance. When I wait for the train.
Today, my foot swings limply by my chair. I am looking at it now.
It is not a pretty foot.
It does not wiggle the way it used to.
The ankle is less thin.
You might say that it is ugly.
But I like it.
I like it better, even, than I like the other foot.
If you know me well, I might already have shown it to you.
I might show it to you yet.
When it is very late,
And I’ve been drinking.
I might roll up the leg of my trousers.
I might roll down my sock.
I might say:
“Do you want hear something really fucking sad?”