Friday, 19 December 2014

Ask

He is telling everyone. He is at a funeral, and he tells them. He is at the gallery. He is at the video shop; they are watching the 2004 remake of the Stepford wives, and it’s terrible.

“I’m leaving,” he says.

They ask him all of the questions that are right to ask, and he answers honestly.

“I don’t know.” “I have no idea.” “It’ll work out.”

When he tells her this later, when they are curled respectively in differently-lit bedrooms, pawing at the screen that separates them, she laughs.

“It’s going to be easy,” she says.

What she means is: “I am going to be easy.”

The girl can barely believe it. The girl has spent years being the girl who never asks for anything. The one with shiny boots of pride lined up in her hall.

What she means is: “Do it. Oh do it. Drop everything for me.”

The girl has been reading Grimms’ fairy tales and trying to work out the morals.

She has been keeping a list of the things that people ask for: a golden bird, a little cottage, the wonderful stone, some honey, a piece of meat, the thousand pearls belonging to the king’s daughter, the king’s daughter, to be king. For the head of her slaughtered horse to be hung on the gates of the city. For a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur put together, to which every beast in the kingdom must give a part of his skin.

Next to them, the girl isn’t asking for much. Sometimes, she cannot tell if she is asking for anything at all.

The last time the girl led a boy to this city, things did not end well. The last boy was swallowed up by the dark winters and thick vowels, and what will the girl do if this happens again? She does not want to be swaddled in sorrow. She will not be lapped by the ox tongue of guilt once more.

So the girl refuses to ask too hard. She is still polishing those boots, she still refuses to say prove it where by it, if she said it, she would mean: your love.

She says, “Do what you want.”

(“Do it, do it, do it.”)

And yet, he is telling everyone.

They have never lived in the same city before and he has no idea what he is going to do and she is still afraid to ask for anything.

Still, she says, “It’s going to be easy.” She believes it.

Kiss me.
Bite the back of my shoulder.
Bring me coffee and morning notebooks.
Leave me alone, I’m writing.
How much?
Tell me how much.
Prove it. 
Be in the front row.
Hook my wrist to this bedpost.
Draw me.
Film me.
Harder.
Tell me again.
Drop everything for me.

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