A R— BY ANY OTHER NAME
The door opens, and you come in only a minute or two late. You find her immediately, catch her eye immediately. You put your arm around her body and shoulder in greeting, your nose in the perfumed hair behind her ear – Hello darling – and leaving your scarf on the table you walk to the bar. After a minute you return across the room holding a glass.
You sit down, make eye contact with her. She takes her hands from her lap and big white teeth smiles at you.
Thanks for coming. I know you don’t have long at home to see your family.
No not at all.
She smiles at you.
They would have loved to see you, you know.
She shakes her head.
You shake your head.
I haven’t got them presents!
You close your eyes and half-laugh, I barely managed to get them presents myself.
Yeah. Long shifts, sometimes night shifts.
She looks at you. I think about you sometimes. In a white coat, holding a stethoscope, you know
She shifts in her seat.
It’s different in here in winter, isn’t it?
We’re almost the only people.
She holds the edge of her chair under the table.
Coming here, there’s a lot to think about – I mean to remember.
You move your hands around and look at her.
Do you get that too?
You nod. We used to come here a lot.
She watches your hands on the table, thin fingers on the edge of the beermat.
Does it feel like a long time ago to you?
She waves her hand – All of it. Does it feel like a long time ago to you?
You look her in the eye. Yes.
You pause. Yes.
She doesn’t say anything.
In a good way I mean
You look around and smile, crossing your wrists on the table around your glass. You lean incrementally infinitesimally forward —
I really wanted to see you
I wanted to you see you too —
I’ve been – I’ve wanted to see you to say something
You hold eye contact, your wrists crossing around your glass (and her wrists crossing around her glass).
She looks away.
Do you remember, she says, do you remember, near the end, you know –
She looks away.
And her tongue sticks so you wait for her to begin again
I want to say something in particular, you know because I have been thinking about it and I just want to get it out. But I don’t need any special reaction from you.
You are wide eyed. Your mouth open wide shark jaw
I don’t expect anything
She closes her eyes for a prolonged second. You touch your palms with your fingertips.
You remember at the end
You remember at the end?
Some of the things we did, you know, how you were different, at the end –
You’re breathing quickly Yes. Yes
Her breathing is quick
She opens her mouth like shark jaws her lips part
You hold eye contact.
I want you to know, she holds eye contact and says your name aloud.
She takes a breath –
I want you to know that they weren’t consensual.
You cover your face.
You speak through your fingers –
She leans back. She closes her eyes and then looks at you.
You say – In the kitchen
She fixes her eyes on you and then exhales. Yes.
She moves, as if to touch her phone in her pocket.
You reach towards her in a panic and in a panic you say
I loved you so much