Over unsweetened coffee and sweetly unexpurgated company, she asks me, ‘If I could grant you any wish, what would it be?’ I wonder if I should tell her my heart’s tacit part in this pact. My desire’s been given to me already, in fact, I asked for her and payed my price in full the minute she materialised. My soul in whole laid at her feet like some chivalrous throwback aimed at spare her spirit from the muck of the world. I smirk and tell her, maybe I’d like to be invisible, but she already sees right through me.
Because Sarah never knocks she walks in on me and freaks out but I think the worst part was how she looked at those bloody towels, like I was why she couldn’t have nice things. Later, after clean up and calm down, we sit at the table for a long time and say nothing over instant coffee. I scratch at the bandage. She won’t hold my hand. I needed to know how much I could hurt myself before it meant something. ‘And?’ I guess I still don’t know. ‘And me? How much should I hurt before it means something?’
While Laura looks for something to carve with, I sit by the meat and think about my last conversation with Dylan, saying he needed us to be more open. I thought he was talking about honesty, not that skank from the coffee shop. Then Laura turns up grinning, with an electric knife and a derelict hacksaw. I let her have the power and take the antique. Truncating a leg I hear cuts of his speech, the teeth sinking deeper with every repeat. I ask Laura if she’d mind stopping somewhere after this, I want to start seeing other people.
When I get up she’s playing Xbox in her underwear. Sitting on the couch and distracted, an empty mug wedged into the hollow cross of her legs. Coffee, she says, trying to make it sound like an offer, not looking up from the screen. I can hear the buttons clicking while she doesn’t look at me. I pace around behind her while I wait for the kettle. Window to bench, bench to couch, couch to table, table to window. Checking into the corners with measured steps. I walk over and ease the mug from her lap.
‘What do you want to do today?’ she asks the screen.
The kettle screams.
I don’t know, I say, whatever you’re into.
Something scratches at the back of my mind, some fragmented dream wanting to come back into consciousness. I try not to think while I fix our coffees, letting a little bit of Zen seep in with the sugar and instant granules. There’s too much immediacy and the dream nags.
‘It’s nice out,’ she says.
Pieces of dreams float in and out, thoughtless nothings that fail to catch. I walk over and put the mug down in front of her and she reaches out, wrapping her hand around my forearm. Her fingers are cold and I find myself looking at the shadows of the room as though they hid an explanation.
‘I love you,’ she says, and I lean down into her kiss.
In my dream I say, I love you, and then lose some small McGuffin. I spend my life searching, asking familiar strangers for directions to places I’ve already been. Go on, they say in idle tones, and I walk on until I wake, scattering hopes around me like sand thrown at the wind.
I heard its going to rain, I say, and walk out onto the balcony.
She watches him go, slightly bored, with an onset of the musty disappointments you find at the end of dreams. Her thoughts a slithering question mark. Under the surface she says, surreal, full punctuation unseen. She washes her hands of electricity, fingertip sensations tightly strung end to end in to a webbing that she rubs free of care. Stung now empty, watching at nothing, she captures the wait. Tapping tap tapping, heels’ rapping kinetic, churning the water wheel. Under the surface she says, refresh, zero punctuation clearly heard. Rising she goes, following a stream of consciousness, only flotsam now.
Ugh, I had coffee with Jamie today. She’s such a bitch (you know it’s true, Jamie). We went to that Flamingo place in the Valley that takes too long to give you your shit. I kind of hate it there because everybody is either beautiful or oppressively different but it’s kind of cool in an uncomfortable secondhand way. Everybody’s big into that at the moment, which I really hate. I overheard somebody say that apathy is coming back. They could have meant a band.
Jamie told me she was thinking about breaking up with Dylan and I told her I thought he was cool, but if she isn’t into it then just fucking do it. (You have to now, bitch). Anyway, I think they’d be better people without each other. I listened to her shoot holes in her relationship with small calibre bullet point frustrations for fully half an hour. As far as I knew the barista was still out the back growing my fucking mocha beans.
Everybody’s either breaking up or getting pregnant at the moment. I feel like this should make me feel something but it doesn’t, not what I think it should. My ex keeps texting that he’s been dreaming about me lately. It means he’s single again. I don’t go back though. It never works out because it didn’t work out. Also, The last time I saw him he’d gotten kind of fat.
My friend Sharon keeps telling me to watch that movie Feed. It’s about guys who get off by feeding chicks until they become fucked up obese. Like, some of these chicks can’t even move and I think maybe some of them die and maybe there’s some weird sex kink in that too. How do people switch off that voice in your head that says you look like shit? I can’t eat a thing once I’ve got the taste of guilt in my mouth.
I don’t want to go straight home so I walk over to Sasha’s place. When she sees me there she smiles with her eyes and pulls me inside. It’s still early but I’m not surprised she’s awake. I love her place, the sun comes straight in over the deck as it rises, warming the house and painting its rooms in the dulcet tones of a Tennessee Williams heroine. Sasha ushers me into the lounge room and pushes me into a sofa. She tells me she’ll make coffee, her voice trailing away from me as she pads into the kitchen.