Bristol June 3rd

My thoughts are stumbling in the same way my feet are. My mind is like a storm. I had forgotten the sickness that comes when falling, falling. Happy pain. The nerves that I can remember from walking on stage in front of a hundred parents or giving that reading, that speech.

Stand up and be counted old boy.

Just as I’m falling for C, L has been given the all clear today. It was a cyst in her breast but she has worried about it to the point that she couldn’t sleep last night, imagining chemotherapy or radiography or the worst possible scenario. Meanwhile I have loyally, lyingly tried to bolster her although she can feel i’m getting fainter.

‘Whoo is in Bristol, James?!’ She asks in that wonderful hoarse, Greek accent. Oh how I’ll miss it. How I’ll miss that sensuality.

I said tomorrow I’d arrange to come to Exeter into her arms, into her warm bosom. But I know I can’t.

How obvious it is. Where with L I want to talk about psychology and have sex, with her I am in pieces and we haven’t even started. We’ve hardly even touched each other.

On Sunday evening I sat smoking in her garden watching her. She had her mother’s skirt on and a cut off white top. She talked as she glided around her garden watering the flowers in their thirsty beds, each stride a shadowy leg glimpsed and then gone.

Two metres apart by law. Covid restrictions adhered to. And we chatted. Nervously at first and then slowly finding a rhythm, tentatively asking each other ‘would you like more wine?’ ‘Is it OK for me to stay?’

‘Yes, of course unless you want to go?’

‘No. Of course not.’

The moon crossed the garden and behind the house. We put on more clothes. And we talked. It was like you remember?…with others…how many moons since?

This is it. There are no defences. Let the swell grow, let the wave grow. Let its back rear up like a giant bull. Crashing towards me as old and unknown as the stars. Break the levees. Pick me up. Bowl me over. Spit me out.

And then do it again.

We were taking about Italy and she was at my shoulder. There is a sense of touch when someone is close but apart but I can feel her.

‘You’re getting too close’, I say. She stays. I look at the photos.

I breathe.

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