cover to cover
I had a blog post in my head on Saturday night; was writing and thinking and now it's lost – my synapses have collapsed and all the connections I was forging have evaporated. I knew the crash was coming, but I couldn't slow down. As the precipice loomed I put my metaphorical foot down on the accelerator and sped towards it at full speed. I’ll write letters after I’ve finished my book I told myself. I’ll write down my ideas – which were going off like fireworks – once I’ve finished the book, I said firmly (admiring and promising myself that I would from now on emulate her practice of jotting down thoughts in a reading journal as I go, but for the next book – not this one). I tried to apply the breaks; at the end of each chapter I’d wander into the living room to demand cuddles and kisses from TA. What my mother calls my “little bird” routine: arms up and voice plaintive “cuddle?”
I counted the pages and knew that the book was coming to an end – a foreknowledge that only the writer, reader and eponymous subject share. I felt like a collaborator. Sixty pages left – an hour. I went and cooked dinner. Thirty pages left. I stopped reading and ate with TA, careful to talk of other things. The last pages were full of passion, thoughts – surely there must be more than fifteen pages left. Whole books still need to be written, life is still being lived greedily.
The last pages, full of words, were empty. Doors opened and closed as a chill wind passed through hollow souls. The book finished with her own words on the unknowableness of others, of selves. I felt as though I should cry, but couldn’t.
“Cuddle. Kiss.” I said to TA. “I’m bereft.”
“You’ve finished your book then,” he said.
“It’s not the end of the book that’s upset me. It’s the end of the life.”
I went into the bathroom and attempted to wash her out of my mind. Scoured my skin with sea salt, soothed it with lemon-scented cream and crawled into jaunty pink pajamas. I thought about picking up half-written letters. I thought about writing my journal. I tried to recapture the fizzing excitement that had kept me awake the night before. I knew these were lost causes. I turned out the light and waited for TA to join me.
I dreamt that my mother was standing over me with throwing axes in her hands. TA was in a single bed on the other side of the room. I tried to call out to him to save me but my voice died in my throat. My heart pounding, I finally managed to call his name and at that moment I knew. “It’s okay. Sorry. I was having a nightmare.” We held each other in the dark. “It’s a long time since I’ve had a nightmare. Scary dreams, yes; but a nightmare, no.”
Gradually the sun filled our room and getting up could be put off no longer. I dressed in pink, trying to be brave. I walked along the cobbled streets thinking she was a survivor more than anything. Don’t lose that sense of her triumph. Don’t wallow for your own vicarious needs.
I want to read it again from the beginning.