Incandescent

2 minute read

Reposting stuff from the past. This one from 2005.

There she is, your ex-lover, across the bar and incandescent. Gleaming as she always does, though perhaps now from that diamond ring perched so effortlessly off her slender fingers, which grip the cigarette tightly in other places. You steal a glance. You steal two. You kick yourself for it. When the words “ex” and “lover” come together, you think, they form such a funny word. The prefix usually suffices, “ex” has an air of such finality, such legitimacy, all these things we never were. “Lover”, while being the closest word you can dredge up, comes together with the first with layers upon layers of an intensity now forsaken, a sordid mystery to be recounted, a tinge of regret in some places and the embrace of the new in others.

Beer, whisky, Marlboro Lights. The usual. I used to find the way she held her cigarette, the way she flicked it every so often, incredibly alluring. Now that I’m years past legal I find myself unconsciously recreating her style. I stopped requesting for Exit Music, she admits, mostly because I was afraid Shirlyn might realize.. I keep asking for it. I stopped coming here for the same reason. When, to torture myself, I’d ask for it, and revel in how it was rendered so perfectly, so strangled: we hope.. that you choke.. so perfectly mirroring us. It’s so easy to fall into old habits, you say. A temporary wave of nostalgia. Do you remember how we snogged at the ATM in front of your house/ at the playground/ in the lift, what we were thinking then? We weren’t thinking then. It’s so easy to fall into old habits, I know.

Old lovers, I used to say, are like old wine. (In addition to getting better every year,) You store them away, achingly at first, always knowing it’s the best move. Out of sight but not as much out of mind as desired. At some indeterminate point in the future you take them out, admiringly. Whether or not you partake again… would merely be a matter of choice. And circumstance.

Side-stepping, arm to arm, swaying together across that grass patch. Being this drunk would have been a good excuse a few light years ago. You ask: how many girlfriends have you had? I count with my hands and feet.. yet somehow manage to truthfully say, well, two. I’m drunk and of unsound mind but sober up at the words, ring, flat, wedding. Like a hostage who loves her captor I begin to feel, for the first time, pleased you are the friend I’ve never had, the friend you should have always been. Even if ring and flat and man are everything I could never be.