The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 22

‘Emily! That’s not...!’ He moved towards her but he was fifty six. ‘“A shard of mirror flung through the universe of his mind”? What tripe,’ she said. Saul leaned across her and snapped shut the lid of the laptop. ‘Thank you for your customary incisiveness Emily,’ he said, too close to her now for comfort. He picked up his glass of cognac before she had a chance to down it and took a step back, almost slipping on a tennis shoe he was sure he hadn’t worn in years. ‘It reminds me of your poetry,’ he said, regaining his balance. ‘Bursting with the unavoidable conclusion that you know less than nothing.’ She smiled at him, but her lip quivered. ‘I know you, you pompous dick. I know how superstitious you are about your hair.’ He slapped away, probably too brusquely, the fingers that reached towards his head. ‘How you’re too ditsy to buy more than a couple of things at a time in the corner shop.’ Her voice was shaky now. ‘And I know that your real life is lonely and pathetic because you pour all your efforts into this stupid computer.’ She had probably taken a couple of pills on top of whatever she had drunk, Saul realised; exactly the ingestion that made failed, half-hearted thespian romantic for her. He couldn't handle crying women unless they were on his screen in a half-finished paragraph. ‘You eat, you sleep, you shower,’ she moaned, her face flickering. ‘You stick post-it notes on your furniture.’ She sat. The top two buttons of her blouse had come undone, Saul couldn’t help but notice. He pulled a towel from the closet and tossed it to her gingerly. ‘You spew yourself into this machine and sooner or later it ends up either in a book you hate or crumpled in a self-loathing ball in your recycle bin.’ She raised the towel to her head and gave it a cursory rub before leaning forward in the chair and grabbing the glass from his hand. ‘It’s hand to mouth, Saul.’ She took a drink and clacked the glass down on the desk. Dropping the towel on the floor she pulled a pack of cigarettes from her coat pocket. ‘None of it is real; none of it matters. Houses of cards.’ Saul looked down at her. Sometimes it was as though she had broken into his heart and was quoting lines from its walls. It was infuriating. ‘Emily, listen to me,’ he said, kneeling in front of her and resting a palm gently on her thigh, ‘it’s late, you’re feeling a bit stupid...’ ‘Shove it, caveman,’ she snapped, brushing his hand away. He stayed put, more out of tiredness than a desire to rile her. 'I know you wouldn't even listen to me if it weren’t for these tits,’ she said. ‘Right, not having kids was totally worth it!’ He replaced his hand on her knee as she picked up the glass and downed the last of the brandy. He stoodslowly, tired and beaten. ‘What you refuse to accept, Saul,’ she said, looking up into his eyes as she lit the Gauloises, ‘is that I’m your only link to real life now. You say the centre of your work is everywhere but you haven't spoken to your brother in six months for God’s sake!’ Saul stepped back flusteredly, though unsure why he should choose this comment to take offence. His knee twanged with the sudden movement. ‘The centre of my work is everywhere!’ he almost shouted, stumbling slightly before tugging his dressing gown strap tighter and continuing in a lower voice. ‘The centre of all books is everywhere. Literature has no circumference, better people than me have pointed out, nor does it require the approval of…’ ‘Who? The people who read it?’ He tried to ignore her. ‘Willis is in my work, Agnon is in my work...’ He couldn’t go on. ‘When it’s direct it’s called plagiarism Saul.’ Emily puffed and the cloud of thick white smoke in