Tuesday, April 11, 2006

pool hours

She's only half in my world and half in another, on the couch curled around a weathered copy of Tournier's Le Miroir des idées. Lips moving slightly as she reads, fingers picking absently at a button on the couch.

"Come over here and sit beside me," she says, without lifting her eyes from the book. Then, a line read from her current page: "Un grand auteur est celui dont on entend et reconnaît la voix dès qu'on ouvre l'un de ses livres," she says, and looks up at me. "Il a réussi à fondre la parole et l'écriture."

No, she is not in my world now. I smile a little, a half-smile of sorts, and cross the room to the bar with ice cubes clinking in my empty glass. Not in my world, but another. I set the glass down on the antique highboy and free-pour a few fingers of Chivas Regal over the ice. Take a sip of that sparkling liquid amber. Savour the clean burn all the way down my throat.

"Are you stuck again, dear?"

Suddenly, my stomach knots. How does she do that? How is it that she knows me so well? That even from over there, that other world, she can see right through me? I walk across to the bookcases and grab a random book from the shelves, switch on my reading lamp, and sit, alone, in my great, leather armchair.

"You know," she goes on, "perhaps you could try that exercise C.P. mentioned last time we were out with him. What was it? To break through your self-censorship, to write about something real from your life, something you would normally never write about."

I hear her close Le Miroir des idées, but I make an effort to appear as though I'm busy reading - whatever it is I have open in my lap.

"Something, even," she continues, "that you normally would try to push from your thoughts, to never even think about. Something taboo."

I'm flipping pages now, all anxious like. Taking long, nervous sips from my scotch, not even feeling the fire. This is what this woman does to me: gets me all mad in the head, pushes my buttons, so to speak - drives me completely fucking mental. It's why I keep her around.

She's behind me, now, fingers working their way across my scalp and I'm nearly taken away by the bouquet of her flowery hair dangling down across my shoulders.

"L'homme ne promène pas son chien," she purrs, "c'est lui qui est promené par son chien." More Tournier delivered on a crashing wave of cherry lip gloss. Warm breath on my cheek.

There's the sudden realisation that it is not she who has left this world, but I. But that's me, so eager to always leave. To get away.

More soft words, bringing me back down to myself. Words brushing against my cheek, nuzzling into my ear, making a home there.

To get away. Me, who would rather move across the country and spend a thousand nights in seedy pubs drunkenly arguing aesthetics with strangers, marching out Kant, quoting Baumgarten.

Whispers. Coming down.

To get away. Me, who would rather push over that bloody lectern than speak at it, selling lies. Tear up that oppressive hall, destroy it, make it unusable, rather than let even one more precious mind be shattered there.

"Baby, are you hearing me?" Those words, new cashmere against my skin.

"Let's go upstairs," she suggests. "You can tell me all about it, then."

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