Just in case, she keeps a catalogue of smiles at the corners of her mouth. I break the seal with my lunacy and unleash them regularly. She says, ‘I love you,’ through her laughter and it takes the corrugated cadence of a car on cattle bars. So I fling myself again and again at the furthest reaches of mania, wondering how much joy I can inject in her life. The answer is infinite, the industry of amusement set to pace with the manufacture of happiness. We have become a self-feeding machine, the product of the product of pleasure.
We are so porous now that our moods break the skin without even touching. Are you ok, I say, and she tells me not to say it, which I understand but do anyway, wanting to help. She sees me struggling like this and asks, is there anything I can do? I tell her not to worry and worry myself with her concerns. Of course, the happiness filters through too, the joy and love and revelries. This feels amazing, she says, and I don’t respond, she knows full well what happens when we’re near. We fill each other so completely.
Her breath feels like a pollinated breeze, rustling sunflowers. It gives goosebumps and shivers, brings growth and joy. She seems too alive for her skin, more than an auras ostentation, a potential explosion calculated but barely demarcated. It’s almost unbalanced, tilt shift technicolour on a greyscale backdrop, she pops out and drowns the world. The whirlwind whipping round the eye, stillness in chaotic check. Her presence expands beyond bounds, the paint on the brush, the stroke on the canvas and the easel itself. She is pure life, elemental and unbridled. How the world copes with it is a mystery.
She screams, ‘Why are we fighting?’ So I make my voice cold in the way I was taught as a child, deep and sharpened for stagecraft. It’s because everything’s too good, I tell her, we don’t trust joy to come so easy or stay solid for long. Hard eyes and a soft tongue, she says, ‘Testing for imperfections.’ Like a peach. ‘Rotten inside?’ Delicious all over. It takes thirty seconds of staring before we’re holding each other in hysterics, the promise of tears swallowed with pride. ‘Are we being silly?’ Only about arguments, I say, the rest is serious.
Being absolutely floored. Summer storms, warm southerlies and soda. The strip of stomach showing between denim and cotton. Little topographic ranges that presage a hip-line, the slight dip at the equatorial belt and the geometry of promise. Lickable surfaces. Swift kindnesses, irrepressible joys, little innocences in everything. Silent understanding, comedic relief, taut volumes and enlightening speech. Socks in a tumble dry, hair fall and lost ties, interpersonal litter. Evaporated salt, waning scars, tussled sheets. Coy smiles, casual affection. Cliff faces and blind leaps. Naivety without ignorance. More time than can be held and memories that fail to fade.