Another spontaneous Saturday night, you and I, rock and roll and warm white wine. We share a moondance, barely clothed, twisting in the violet light and baring our teeth to the omniscient and unforgiving sky.
You replace the cigarette that dangles from my tired lips with an urgent kiss and I can’t quite believe that I’m here again. Every time is always the last time. In spite of how dangerous this situation is, we feel safe. You are bad for me but I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be, although you probably wouldn’t agree.
As we dance, a framed picture on the wall won’t leave me alone. We keep spinning until you suddenly reach out to catch a large silver moth in your hands: its wings beat louder than your heart and I pray that you will never trap me in such a way. The picture in the corner demands my attention so I go to take a closer look.
It’s a blue biro drawing of the crucifixion from an odd perspective. The wooden cross is captured in alarming detail, the sweat and blood on Christ’s skin practically glistens, and I can feel the rust on the nails as if they had been driven through my own palms. I am astounded by the intricacy. Some people don’t care much for detail.
I ask you about the drawing and you tell me too much: your schizophrenic uncle, the troubled artist, the tortured soul, brilliant but ‘not made for this world’, died young, ‘not cut out for this life’, ‘in a better place now.’
I may know you intimately, physically, but I am reminded of the fact that I know nothing about you as a person. I don’t know your birthday or what you do for a living, but I know your name and your address. I don’t even know your phone number. I can see that you are sad and I am sad for you. I realise just how much I want to know you, even though I shouldn’t.
You don’t stop. You let your guard down, more than you planned, more than I expected. In between lines of cocaine and lines of Hendrix, you talk about your late mother, your sisters, your childhood abroad. I just listen, amazed at your openness, pushing back thoughts of the panicked moth and wondering whether my selfish and stupid sins are worth Jesus’ sacrificial suffering.
You talk about carrying your mum’s coffin and, for a moment, I think you may be about to cry but words fall from your eyes instead, and I let you talk. You are too old for me. You are twice my age and I start to believe that you have suffered twice the pain. I tell you that it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here, I’ve got you. I have a horrible feeling that you don’t remember my name. It’s okay, it’s okay. Your hot breath on my neck makes me believe my own words. We are safe.
Do you believe that you’ll meet them again someday, somewhere? Your mum, your uncle?
Yeah, I do. We have to believe it, don’t we, otherwise what’s the point?
I kiss your shoulder twice and I say nothing because there is no point. In that instant, all of your sweet vulnerabilities dissolve on my tongue and you revert to type, back to swigging Stella and pulling my hair. You bite me til I bleed and call me filthy names. You always treat me badly in the best way. And every time I leave, I tell myself that this is definitely the last time, that I deserve better, that I never want to see you again…
Barefoot, I walk home in the pouring rain, drenched to the bone, bad to the bone. The moon accompanies me through the silence of the abandoned allotments and over deserted wastelands of burnt-out cars and fly-tipped furniture, and as I feel the crunch of broken glass under the soles of my feet I notice that, tonight, these streets don’t scare me like they usually do.
I walk slow, I take my time: no one is waiting for me anywhere, I have no place to be. I get lost in thoughts of moths and masochism and when I finally get home I realise that all I have to confirm that any of this has happened are my scrunched-up knickers in my pocket, the bruises between my thighs and the everlasting vision of a man whose eyes have seen more pain than mine.
Earlier version originally published on The Magic Black Book – January 2016.