What leaves me more bereft than anything else is the feeling that there are stitches loose in all my joints; that I’m wobbly when I try to do things on my own, because any one of the stitches could break at any moment and I would lose a limb. I have not aged: I have been pushed back in years to a time when the unknown in the world was terrifyingly weighty.
It is heavy as it presses in around my body, like I am deep underwater and fighting to keep the barrier of my skin intact. And in that dark world of water I am alone. But, even as I wonder how much air I have left in my lungs, I am learning to sew.
‘Nevermind,’ she said quietly to herself as her suede shoes were rapidly ruined by the rain. At least they had character now.
She stood under her broken umbrella on the unfamiliar street corner and marvelled at the genius of the contraption she held above her head.
Somehow the rain never made her sad anymore. It reminded her of a place she missed dearly but was also glad to be away from. It reminded her of him, of that street, of that house and of the wet-cold winters. And it always brought a smile to her face, even if her shoes had become its victim.
She is fascinated by the clothes hanging, nearly dry, on the clotheshorse. Clothes you hung there earlier today.
Your familiar black t-shirt (her mother bought it for you) hangs in front of all the other clothes, almost as if you are there, dangling upside down to make her laugh. She thinks of how the fibres of that t-shirt would normally sit so close to your skin’s warmth, borrowing your smell.
On the lower rungs, your socks retain something of the shape of your absent feet. The socks, like the feet they keep warm, are big and wide and often spend time inside sneakers or running shoes.
The pants hanging behind the t-shirt also leave clues about their wearer. They are worn in places and the fabric is soft: you are someone who has favourites.
Her clothes too are there. Nestled up next to yours are her t-shirts, socks and underwear. She imagines you hanging them, your face serious as you concentrate.
She leaves the room, not wanting to disturb your clothes while they quietly enjoy each other’s company. She wonders that you two can be together is this room while you are really absent from here and from each other. She smiles as she closes the door behind her.
You tell her that she thinks about the future so much that you worry she’s not making the most of the present. Sometimes she thinks you might be right.
But the reason for her near constant tea leaf-reading is thus: she wants the weight of your years together, of the memories, to feel like immersion in an ocean, the enormous body of water blocking her ears, nose and mouth; pressing on her skin, forcing her body close to implosion. The currents that make the waves on the surface also rock her gently to and fro, and the light from surface creates hanging beads like the ones bought in Asian grocery stores and two-dollar shops.
She looks forward to being able to look back from this place. In preparation she is trying to grow gills.