Friday, 27 March 2009

Short Story

Before I copy and paste this, I have to give a reason as to why I'm doing so. This is not a good story. It is, however, the first piece of fiction writing I've done in an enormous amount of time. As such, putting it down in my blog is much like charting the first run you do after a year's break. I need practice, and I need to see how - if at all - I improve. So here, for all its flaws, it is.

The End

    This is the end.

I wish there were something new I could say about it, some great insight that a hundred thousand poets have missed over the course of human existence, but in the end it’s such an insignificant, unimaginative little thing.

We were in love. Now we are not.

You were never abusive. I was never abusive.  We fought, but only as ‘nice‘ people fight; acid splashes of words, fading to nothing over the course of time. How easily they were forgiven. The worst thing you ever said was that I was selfish. I probably said the same about you. Everyone’s selfish sometimes. We weren’t even interesting in our flaws.

I think we were passionate in the beginning, but even passion is ordinary. In the beginning, surely everyone’s stomach drops away at the lightest of touches? At that first, agonizing separation, surely everyone spends every waking moment with loneliness wriggling inside like desperate fish.

How did anyone ever think love came from the heart? It’s in the guts – the stomach, the bowels. Romance tends to veer away from guts. I suppose it’s down to the arrogance of humanity, wanting their most primal urges to be associated with beauty. Sexual love isn’t beautiful. Not in any way. It’s sweaty, sticky, irrational, animalistic. You can soft-pedal it by differentiating between sex and love, but even if you care about the person you’re writhing around with, it’s still as sweaty, sticky, irrational and animalistic. You just have more to talk about afterwards.

It’s all so boringly predictable.

We met. We were thirty-ish – old enough to have seen our fair share of broken relationships, but not old enough to be jaded. We were in different offices but the same building, and one year our Christmas parties over-spilled and we ended up drinking cheap vodka in your boss’s office. We talked for hours, until the sun came up and caught the motes of dust rising from the carpet. It was, actually, a beautiful sunrise. It caught the old stone of the buildings, touching them with pink until they glowed. We stood at the large window and watched, talking softly about ourselves.

Is there anything more satisfying that explaining yourself to someone? Even with an ordinary person it’s a joyous experience. When you find yourself with someone who coos with pleasure over every insight, matching it with their own like a child playing mental snap, it’s like a revelation. It fills you. I found myself trembling with the pleasure of it.

After that, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I tried to run into you at every available opportunity – a task made so much easier by the fact you were obviously doing the same thing. We started eating at the same awful cafĂ©. Our work suffered as we threw caution to the wind, extending our lunch breaks as far as our colleagues’ patience allowed.

Eventually we went to dinner.

Eventually, we went to bed.

Then, for a long time, we couldn’t seem to stop going to bed. We would kiss for hours, missing the sensation so much that we’d dive straight back mere moments after pausing for breath. We went from careful, exploratory sex to astonishing, all-encompassing, perfect sex. We imprinted on each other - every curve and nuance learned. From there we could experiment, knowing always that if something was strange, something unpleasant, we could slip back into the familiar routine.

But experimentation takes imagination, and there’s only so much to go round. After a while the everyday nonsense of living intrudes, and in sharing bathrooms and illnesses, drudgery and exhaustion, habits and peccadilloes (none of them interesting), the heat begins to wane.

That’s where love comes in. If you love someone, warmth is enough. Warmth, in fact, is good. It’s comforting. Comfortable. It allows you to be relaxed, to shed outer layers, to be yourself. Perhaps, occasionally, you’ll remember how it was before and experience a pang or two of nostalgia – but it won’t be enough to send you into a world of glances with strangers, lingering drinks at the bar, tangled limbs and upheaval. You love this person. You’ve made a life with them. They know you better than anyone else in the world. The thought of starting again with someone new, someone who might not put up with your habits and peccadilloes, who might, in the course of an argument, call you something far worse than selfish  - no, that couldn’t be further from your mind. You are, at last, a Couple. You think in unison, often catching yourselves communicating in half-sentences. You know what, and what not to buy at the supermarket should you find yourself shopping on your own. You can choose each other’s meals off a restaurant menu, and it pleases you each time you get it right. In fact, you are so in tune with one another you’ve almost melded. Have you lost parts of yourself along the way? Perhaps. If so, you don’t mourn the loss. You’re better this way.

There are some people who love for the rest of their lives. They still feel their stomachs swoop, still have the imagination to experiment in bed. They play mental snap and ‘guess what I’m going to order’ and writhe and revel in the warmth of it all.

But not us. The game just wasn’t fun any more. We looked back and thought about love and saw nothing but the mundane. We’d done what everyone does. We’d experienced nothing new. For some people, that’s enough. For some, it’s success. For us, it was just one long, slow descent into sadness.

Love just faded into the background. No fireworks, no screams and broken crockery, no hate. If we wasted all those years, we’re not bitter about it. It’s just one of those things. Just the way life goes, sometimes. Just the end.