Synaesthesia Magazine Seven Deadly Sins - Page 60

Damn, I need a piss now. It drives me mad that my own body rebels against me. I’d quite happily have tubes attached to me, some to put it all in and then some to take it all out again. But I’ve never pissed myself before and I certainly don’t plan to start now.

I sit back in my old faithful armchair. There’s someone walking across the green, it looks like… but it can’t be, not after all these years. No, I’m sure it is. It’s been a long time but I still recognise her. It’s Milly.

I was fifteen when my best friend, Frank, started going out with her. I had always liked her; she was pistachio nuts, pine trees and Soor Ploom sweets. But I was shy and could never pluck up the courage to ask her out. By the time I’d planned what I was going to say to her, I found out she and Frank had already been out on a date. It hurt; I had tight ribs and a lump of granite in my stomach. But I wouldn’t let the fact that she wasn’t mine stop me from enjoying her. In fact, I decided that I’d have all the pleasure with none of the hassle that goes along with it. So, I found out where they were going on their second date and I followed them. I sat behind them in the cinema and enjoyed all the elicit touches and clumsy kisses.

I went on as many of their dates as I dared. When Frank borrowed his dad’s car and drove to the cliff tops, I snuck in the back unseen. We lost our virginity that night.

She’s sitting down on one of the benches. She and I smell the freshly fallen rain and we feel our clothes growing cold beneath us on the damp wood. I wonder what she has been up to all these years, maybe she got married, had children, grandchildren. She wouldn’t remember me.

When I was twenty-five my parents decided to help me out. They got me this flat and said they would give me an allowance until I was ready to fend for myself. That was almost forty years ago and I haven’t left it once since I moved in, not even to attend their funerals. There are never any disappointments in a life spent on cushions and if there are any unpleasant feelings I just close my eyes and they disappear. There was a time when I couldn’t escape the feelings of rejection or failure, like when I failed my exams, when I couldn’t get a job, when I lost Milly. Now though, my immobility guarantees me shelter from those negative sentiments.

Milly has her back to me. What is she doing? Is she waiting for someone? Does she know I live here? I wonder what she is thinking about, who she is thinking about.

I have lived. So I might not have pictures of me smiling with my arm around a beautiful woman in some sun soaked location. I don’t own stickmen drawings from grandchildren. I don’t have any certificates or trophies. I don’t have the gold watch you’re given at retirement. I don’t have memories. I have never been loved. This doesn’t mean I haven’t lived though. Sat here I have felt all human emotions and experienced every sensation a body can. I have slept with numerous women and several men, and have tried every position and sexual fetish. I have felt the visceral power of jealousy, anger and lust, felt the itch of them in my bones and crawling along my skin. I have been stroked, caressed, fondled, bruised, cut and burned. These windows have shown me life. My nerve endings shot out like suckered tentacles, they latched onto the glass and brought me back one sensory sensation after another.

Is that living? Looking at Milly sitting in the broken sunlight, I am not so sure. I look at her hands, feel the rough grain beneath her finger tips and I can’t help but think of all the other things her hands have touched. I look at my own hands; pale, soft and smooth. It has been such a long time since they felt dew drenched grass or the soft felt of a flower petal.

I wonder, could I go down there? I’ll just say a quick hello. I might invite her up. I look around me. There’s nowhere for her to sit. The only furniture I have is this chair and my bed, and a few scattered cobwebs that cover the floor and cradle the corners.

I don’t know if I can leave. This flat has been my cocoon, the outside world may be too much. I have always borrowed feelings from others, to have my own may overwhelm my weakening body.

She rarely ever looked at me, but when she did, everything around me melted like caramel.

I lift my body out of my chair. My joints grind as though corroded with rust. I walk slowly towards the door and lift my hand to the latch.

I can’t do it. Why this sudden urge to start living? I turn and glance at my living room. I breathe in and inhale its grey mustiness. I turn back to the door and this time I open it, step into the stark corridor and approach the lift. I press the button, feeling ridged beneath my fingers. After a few seconds, the doors open and I step inside. A young woman is already in there. She has been crying. I taste the salt on my lips. We reach the ground floor, she steps out. It’s not too late for me to go back. I am being an old fool. I have chosen the way I want to live and it doesn’t involve going outside. I am out of breath, sweating, my heart is beating much too quickly. I haven’t had to think or make a decision for forty years, I don’t know how to do it. How do I control the fizz and pop of these thoughts? Put this blur of colour in some sort of order? I guess I’ll just keep walking. When I see her, it will melt away, everything will dissolve.

I step out of the building. White scolds my eyes. A thick, heavy, damp cloak descends upon me, making me wilt. I move my stiff limbs forward. I see green before me now, iridescent in the wavering light. I am almost there. I turn the corner and she is gone.