paint it red
A glass of red wine with a friend and a colleague on a Friday afternoon. Lovely. A second glass of red wine on a Friday afternoon with a friend and perhaps a proto-friend. A naughty, daring, silly thing to do. A third glass of ruby red wine. We had crossed a line. Three empty bottles on a small table. Three people sitting around a table when they should be at their desks. Rebels, but why?
The fourth bottle was empty. Staggering back to the office I fell over my chair to the amusement and disbelief of my sober colleagues. Career suicide?
It was still light as I caught the bus home, cradling a bottle of water and eating chocolate biscuits on the top deck.
You'd have to ask TA for an accurate account of the hours between six and midnight. He shouted at me, I think. I passed out in bed. He wasn't amused when he found me sharpening knives in the kitchen in the witching hour. "Are you hungry?" he asked, bemused.
Sitting on the sofa in a cold sweat I couldn't see an honourable way out. The past few years I've been a bull in a ring - I keep charging at the matador but all I get is wounded and tired. I can't escape the ring, but what if there was a way out?
Cold hatred, disgust. What a fuck up. Unless dog steroids and Prozac can kill, there weren't enough drugs in the house to obliterate the loathing thoughts so I took the last two ibuprofen and sat on the sofa with the two sharpened knives. Decline and Fall in my hands.
I have a small scar on the inside of my right wrist from a brush with a hedge - I hope people don't think I cut myself. Although of course now I have. Lengthways I remember TA telling me is the best way. Blunt knives scratch rather than cut. Long scratches, bruises really, just bruises. I'm not good at sharpening knives.
A day after being run over they moved me from one hospital to another. In the back of the ambulance the drip fell out and they couldn't get it back into my wrist - in the end my right arm was splinted and they moved up the arm to the inside of the elbow. I still remember how it hurt as they struggled to get the bloody drip in.
The serrated knife, the one I always use for preference, sliced bluntly and didn't hurt much. It took me a while to realise that this time I'd managed to make me bleed. Pleased and a bit surprised I watched the blood run down my arm. I already knew it still wasn't nearly enough to require no more thought and anyway it was so pretty. So red, bright - not heavy like the clotted sludge of a month's end - a liquid jewel.
I realised there was more blood than I had originally thought - it was soaking into TA's black sheepskin that I'd curled up under. What a waste. I took the blood into the kitchen and made patterns on my canvas. So pretty and still it wasn't stopping. Drip, drip, drop.
I padded into the bedroom. "Will you bandage my arm?" I asked.
A little trickle of blood ran into the bath as TA found his Australian army first aid kit. A pool collected as he placed an aloe patch over the half-inch of open wound and wrapped it in a bandage. Thankful and tired I was ready to sleep.
"Ambulance or A&E?"
Shame and guilt - really it's a tiny cut.
"Ambulance or A&E"
A walk to Guy's and then a taxi to St Thomas's.
Three minutes with a senior staff nurse called Lisa. No explanations needed, help offered and declined. Decline and fall, decline and fail.
I'll keep the bus ticket TA bought me as he brought me home, valid for travel until 3.18am on Saturday morning.
Saturday morning. Explanations, recriminations, apologies.
Today. Soaking my clothes and TA's fleece on cold water. Washing my rust from the draining board. I dreamt last night that my menstrual blood was everywhere - handprints on the walls and toilet cistern - but when I woke I wasn't bleeding.
TA says I have to stop running away. My mother says I have to learn to love myself. My boss says he’s there if I want to talk. I don’t want to talk. I’d like to run away but the fact that I’d be doing it on my legs defeats the purpose. I’d like to love myself better and yes write that blasted novel. I’d like to live and work on a farm close to the open sky and fields. I’d like to achieve something in this tiny stretch of time we call a life. I’d like to love my husband better, I’d like to paint my body with ink, I’d like to howl.
Can someone please open the gate for me? I don’t want to be in the ring anymore, but I can’t seem to find the right exit.