Saturday, 27 June 2015

Stockholm by Jenny Gray

I lie looking at the torn curtain. It had snagged in the window's catch and you, instead of lifting the metal, loosening the material as I would have done, pulled it roughly free so the fabric tore. Now the loose threads stir in what little breeze comes in through the half-lifted casement.

There are days when you don't come and visit and there are days when you do but I wish you would not. I am beginning to feel like the woman in the story who sees figures in the wallpaper. But my room is painted green – the colour of sleep – and no matter how hard I squint, all I can see is that dense aquatic hue, the curve of a wave. To think that you picked it deliberately is laughable and I do laugh sometimes.

There were days before this one when we would walk in the park and I would keep my back to the greying sky and the sycamore leaves caught in the snarl of the  autumn wind. We'd walk along Davie to the corner of Thurlow, and turn right, down to the water where we'd sit on a washed-up log and watch the ferries cut their way to the island. We no longer voyaged out ourselves. We stayed on the log and I told you how I felt the boundaries of our lives shrinking. Your fingers were whiter than the sand that ran between them and I remembered how you were an olive-skinned boy when we met.
Now there is only wave-green.
The curtain threads hang loose and languid. Beyond the room, beyond the window, summer is making other people fractious, they snap at their loved ones. The voices in the park: the laughter and the screams, and the hot scent of traffic drift up to the sixth floor.
Ice clinks on glass when you bring in cold pitchers of water or tea. I turn my back to the door and imagine the green of the walls casting ripples on my face like light bouncing off a swimming pool.
You slip a hand under the damp cotton of my nightdress and every muscle in my body tightens then relaxes. There are days when I could love you. Days when you pause in the doorway, the squeak of your rubber-soled shoes on bare boards as you shift your feet.

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