The Way to Say Goodbye
By Ash Warren
For the ‘Quitters Anonymous’ Award
Between us, there was only the unspoken. A vast grassland of things I wanted to say and never could.
I’m at the door, have to go, but let me try. Just once.
Let me tell you about how I wanted to sleep with you, or even just hold you because I was lonely and you were gorgeous and I was dull and you were completely fascinating and if you were sunlight then I was just a shadow walking away.
That there was never day or night, but only twilight. Twilight and waiting.
Waiting until I saw you and when I did, things would start again. The very breath of things would suddenly exhale and resume. The great clock would start to tick, the planets would turn again and the wind begin to search among the leaves, the air vivid and cold.
And then the cell door would bang shut again. And this ache, this enervating deadness, this false life, this half-lived thing which had actually never left would greet me once again. It had just been waiting too.
And each day it would whisper the same true thing:
She’s not yours,
She’s not yours,
She’s not yours.
Midnight and the phone rings. It’s you.
Tomorrow I’ll find a way to tell my friends, ‘Oh, I was talking to Anne half the night. Anne. You know her….’ Why? Because I want them to imagine us, laughing and close. So that I can believe it too. Believe in you, with your easy laugh and your string of pearls and the languid fingers which sometimes stroked my arm when we talked.
Tonight, again, you want to talk about him.
‘Do you think I’m crazy Stephen?’
‘No, of course not.’
(You pause, I know what’s coming.)
‘I love him… I love him you know….He just doesn’t even see me….’
‘I know, I know….’
‘What shall I do? It’s so good to talk to you Stephen….you always listen to me….’
I am a liar though. But maybe you know that, and maybe you don’t care.
Actually I just want to keep you talking. Even if the perfect bright blade of your words continues to slice deeper, down and down to the hard bone.
No, don’t stop.
Don’t hang up.
No, it’s not bothering me at all………
Tell me everything.
It’s not so late.