I have resigned myself to the fact that you are not coming back. I have tired of clutching the phone like the last lifeline and have relinquished my grip on it and gained a tighter grip on myself. At least I hope I have. I said I’d give you one thousand days – today and counting one thousand and one. Patience is a virtue – that is the biggest lie anyone ever told. It’s overrated. It’s a ploy – to make you wait in despair for something not really worth waiting for in the first place. I am sorry it took me this long to figure it out. Well good luck buddy – your loss. I say it like a mantra – I am going to say it until I believe it…I consider recording it and playing it while I sleep and then I think what would the point be? I don’t sleep. And I believe the loss is mine and that I would wait another thousand days if it meant you would return.
I have played it out a hundred times in my head – the Cassablanca-esque reunion. I’m slimmer, prettier and wiser – I’m cool and aloof – I smoke menthols from a cigarette holder and drink single malt even though I hate the taste of it. I am the better part of myself – the person I imagine I’m holding hostage somewhere beneath the skin and fat – don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about – we all have one. Anyway that’s me at the bar – I’m wearing something classic and tailored – suddenly I can afford Chanel. I smell good. I walk in stilettos. I am funny and ironic and mysterious…essentially I am perfect. You appear at the door…you look tired…older and a little bit rugged. You’re wearing a hat – I always wanted a man who wore hats. It suits you. You scan the room – I watch you – enjoying the distress on your face when you can’t pick me out amongst the wannabes around us. You’re about to give up and then you catch sight of me and I’m looking at you from over my shoulder – a little smug and sultry – you catch your breath – in one instant I’ve you floored. You’re surprised – you’re impressed – you can’t believe it’s me – you want to pinch yourself like this is all some dream – the hat is scratchy. You smile. Your eyes crease – I am coy – I pray to god I don’t have lipstick on my teeth – I want to run to you and jump in your arms and tell you that I have missed you…I don’t. I wait for you to come over. You buy me a drink – white wine spritzer for the lady you say to the bartender – I interrupt actually it’s single malt now – you look at me trying to recognize me again – the woman you knew is gone – you killed her remember? She drowned in the wash cycle of your filth. The years of your discontent evaporate. You are enamored. You want me. You want me. You want me. I get stuck – the record won’t skip past this point. You want anyone but me. You want me but someone else. You want me to be what you want. Your want. This is a bad idea. I am stuck – I need to get out more. I need to go for a run – I need to be one of those women who run. When did being what you want become so difficult? Why am I so afraid?
Enough. Enough. I open another box of wine. It’s dry and cold and I drink it like an alcoholic off the wagon for the first time. I put on some music – something loud and sassy. I move like a stripper – or like one of those girls who know how to dance – who look cool on the dance floor – I am at one with the rhythm – I am gorgeous and I am free. I am young and unattached. I am going out. I drink another glass of wine. My mouth is numb and my tongue is thick and my cheeks are hot. I stumble to the bedroom and open my cupboard – a pair of tracksuit pants fall on me from the top shelf – they’re the charcoal grey ones I thought I’d lost – I rejoice at the sight of their comforting softness and fake fibres – I begin to pull them on then remember the mission. I search the back of the cupboard throwing out the wreckage of poor taste that greets me. When was spandex ever a good idea? Velour? Sweet Jesus I need a drink. I bring the box and spill half of it on the floor – by this stage there is a moment where I debate licking it up – I stop myself – Have you no respect? I look at a pair of green polyester tights…the answer to that is a resounding NO. Eventually I find it – a purple apparition of loveliness. It was the dress I wore on our first date – You took me to a Cuban restaurant – we drank mojitos and danced the salsa. It was the best night of my life. I was in that moment the most beautiful girl – not in the room – to you. Your eyes never left me. You smiled your gorgeous smile and dipped me. I laughed and laughed. I was happy – so very happy. And other couples wanted to be us and we knew that and it felt good to be the poster children for something other than one night stands and dirty bars. The dress smells of dust and damp – another life form has commandeered the left shoulder – it doesn’t look lethal. I grab a cloth and begin to scrub it off – eventually it yields but one patch is now considerably lighter than the rest of the dress. I swig some more wine; I can’t find my glass so I pour it straight into my mouth. The box feels lighter – I could have sworn I’d opened it recently. I pull off my clothes and stumble as I try to pull the dress on. It’s proving to be quite a mission – I don’t remember it being this difficult back then – but then again I hadn’t drunk three quarters of a box of wine…or put on 15 kgs! The dress is tight. On. But tight. I feel like I’m suffocating – like a sausage in its casing bursting out. I hobble to the full-length mirror, it’s difficult to walk – I feel like a geisha girl. I try to breathe and feel like I’ve cracked a rib – I suck it up. The mirror is a cruel, cruel invention. I am stunned by its unfeeling reflection. I greet myself in all my splendor – the dress is out dated, the shoulder pads are misplaced and the zip is broken – the hem has come out and it fits like a glove…on a giant. I have never looked this bad. You wonder how this is possible with aforementioned track pants…but really, I have never looked this terrible. It doesn’t take much for the tears to come – they spill out onto my red cheeks – I look like the Goodyear blimp – a giant purple Oros man – my legs are pale and I forgot to shave for three weeks. My nose is running, I blow it on the dress. I am beyond self-respect. I debate smashing the mirror or carrying it out onto the street as punishment. Leave it on the garbage to torture someone else – but that would mean I’d have to walk – in this dress – out there. Expose myself to shame and ridicule. I think better of it. I try to pull the dress off but it won’t budge – I swear in frustration – stumbling about the room in this monstrosity. I am beginning to itch – I imagine the unknown life form hatching and penetrating my skin – I try harder to free myself. A final tug and I trip over my wine glass – it cracks sickeningly under the heel of my foot and I go down. The pain is blinding – worse than childbirth I imagine. I’m still trapped in the dress and I’m gasping for air.
I feel like a giant, beached, purple whale – volunteers rally around me – pouring seawater down my blowhole. I feel naked and heavy. They stroke my blubbery grey skin – a guy with brown hair smiles at me You’re going to be alright – we’re going to get you back out there in no time. A shark circles in the distance. I try to talk – but can’t. I cry but my tears are lost in the water. Just then the six o clock news crew appear. A blonde with perfect skin stands in front of me with a microphone – the cameraman counts her in and she’s talking about the unusual purple whale that beached itself behind her – she comments on the phenomenon and the mystery of why I am there – I try to call her over – because I am fat and stuck in a dress you stupid bitch! She doesn’t hear me and then she says there is no hope – that the kindest thing is to euthenase – and I find myself nodding in agreement. Yes, put me down. It is the kindest thing to do. Within five minutes I am surrounded by men with rifles aimed at my head – onlookers are crying and I am gasping for air. So long cruel world I whisper as they fire. I wake up in the dark – my mouth is dry and carpet fur is stuck on my lips – my head hurts and a searing pain from my foot throbs in reminder. I roll onto my back – A strange sense of déjà vu creeps over me – I have done this before. The horror of the last two hours washes over me – I am too sick and sore to cry – I crawl towards the dressing table, a giant purple caterpillar – I fumble around for my scissors – this is the most shameful moment of my life. No wonder you won’t come back. Look at me. Please don’t look at me. I cut myself out. My body relaxes with every inch freed. I breathe easier – the air is cold on my bare skin. The carpet soft on my naked back – recovering I sit up – a ruby gash across my heel throbs congealed blood and glass and the carpet looks like the star in a slasher flick. The sight of it all turns my already churning stomach and it takes a will of iron not to throw up right then and there. I reach for the remaining sip of wine – it is warm and not nearly enough. With every ounce of courage I possess I pull a shard of glass the size of Italy out of my heel – I have never been one prone to exaggeration – not once in my whole life ever. It hurts like a bitch – I never understood what that saying meant but I get it now. I release a primal scream and the neighbour’s dog howls a response – fresh blood gushes out onto the carpet – I apply pressure to the wound with the shreds of my dress – God please don’t let me die this way. I feel angry – this is really all your fault – if you had come back none of this would have happened. The fat, the drinking, the accident. Good riddance to bad rubbish! Huh! I wave my fist at the wall like a French revolutionary – I debate breaking into the chorus of Do you hear the people sing from Les Miserable’s but can’t remember the words, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirrors poker face and somewhere deep inside me a sob swims to the surface – bubbles of spit foam from the corners of my mouth and my nose is red – the sob is deep and raw and convulses my whole body in its power – the grief comes in waves – a rolling tide of all my regret – it offers no respite, I cannot stem the tide. The tears flow, pelting down my naked skin, in this moment I imagine that I could really cry forever – fill an ocean with them and then? I’d swim. I wouldn’t suffocate on the sand with a bullet in my head – I’d just swim – and the waves would carry me further and further out to sea and the crowds would cheer and shout she’s alive! She’s alive! And I’d flick my tail and swim until the tears dried up. The more I swim the thinner I become. The blubber evaporates and I shed my purple whale hyde – and instead of fins I have arms and legs and I am fit and strong and beautiful. This comforts me – all things considered we take comfort from whence it comes. I wipe the tears away and confront the mirror girl – she stares at me, a puzzled look on her face – I stare back until she blinks and then a smile breaks from the cloud of her face and we laugh. We laugh.