She sits on the edge of her side of the bed and stares outside the window. But she doesn’t look at the beautiful view from her ”posh city centre flat”, as her mother-in-law likes to call it. She sees nothing. Nothing with her eyes, that is.
Her mind, though, is racing with thoughts. Old friends, parents, sisters, letters, ‘I need to find out what I like again,’ Napoli, the sun, a dear friend she hasn’t seen for ages. Actually, this last one she forces herself to think of just as a friend. He was her first love. Her first kiss. And she had dreamed about him the night before. They were kissing. But this time they weren’t twelve anymore.
She sits there. Not one muscle or bone in her body seems to be working. Just her head. Her eyes burn with tears she tries to hold back. Once one is out, there will be no stopping them. And she can’t let it happen. Not today. Not this morning anyway. They have guests and they are getting ready to go out. If she starts crying, her nose will be as big and red as Rudolph’s.’How am I going to explain that? I don’t want to go out. Not now. Not ever again.‘
Jim enters the room. He notices she has a little notebook and that she’s writing something.
‘Are you ready, babe?’
‘Nearly. Just five more minutes.’
He walks around the bed and strokes her hair.
‘Are you ok?’
‘Yes, I’m fine.’
He kisses her gently on the lips and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
‘Why do I always say I’m fine when I’m not?’
She remembers a text she read a week before at uni. The words she had nearly memorised immediately and kept on remembering, because it was so much like what she had been feeling lately… It felt like ‘ …going up an endless staircase until it came to a sudden abrupt termination, with no balustrades, allowing no step onward, except into the depths below. It seemed to be the end of my misery. But then, I raised my eyes, and there was another flight of stairs still higher. Again, terminating on the very brink of the abyss. One more time, I elevated my eyes, and a still more aerial flight of stairs is beheld. And so on, until the unfinished stairs and I are both lost in the upper gloom of the hall.‘ Well, or something like that, she couldn’t remember the exact words of Thomas de Quincey’s confession of an English opium-eater. All she knew was that, there and then, that would have to do to explain what she had been feeling. Not that she could possibly try to tell anyone anyway.
She scribbles the end of her notes, tears the page off, folds the piece of paper carefully and hides it inside the book she’s reading, Eat Pray Love. ‘Ha! Isn’t THAT ironic?’ Just before she leaves the room, she glances at herself in the mirror and forces a smile. ‘Not one tear. I win today.’
In the living room, the in-laws say good morning with a warm smile. Jim holds her tenderly and whispers to her ear.
‘Phew! You’ve frightened me, angel. I thought you were writing a suicide note in there. Don’t ever leave me, ok? I love you.’
She stands on her toes to reach him and kisses him.
‘Thank you. I love you too.’ And they leave.
But still, her eyes are looking at nothing. It’s like she is not even there. She thinks about that tea advert on TV, with that beautiful song, and the girl stranded at sea, when she loses both rows and the birds fly her boat back to the shore and she sees herself and they hug and become one again, with a cup of tea in her hand. Hadn’t she even painted her toenails red just to feel more like that girl? To give her some hope? ‘What does that advert say in the end? Twinings: Gets you back to you. Ha. And I don’t even like tea!’
Holding his hand tight, she smiles sadly and thinks of the last note she hid inside her book; just another one, along with some others of similar content:
I’m tired. I feel hopeless. I see no purpose in being here anymore. I’ve already hurt you too much.
I will always love you.
*Photo: from Twinings tea advert