You’d walked home that night: rewinding, replaying, rescripting.
You’d messed it up, telling her. Messed it up. After the plates were cleared, as you’d talked about life and books and stuff there were no openings. Never an opening. Willing, your mind willing, but your mouth had stayed closed. The man, the child, inside peering through the windows of your eyes – hearing the stranger who occupied your body talk pretentiously about Kafka and Felice. Tell her. Just tell her. Your stammer was back. Stressed. Too stressed. Remember your script. You’re prepared. Over-prepared.
Clumsy. Awkward non sequitur. Not natural. Too planned. But necessary. It had to be planned. Moving things on. Letting her know that something had happened. You’d tried before. Lost the words. Lost them. Moments had passed before. Not just that night, lots of nights. But that was no way to start. Beginnings are always easier when you’ve finished, when you can work out where the start was.
She’d looked sad. Her eyes were sad, as you blurted everything out. The lot. The whole shebang.
And there were tears. Her tears. Your tears. Proper Juliet Stevenson tears. And you’d hugged. And she’d told you that it was okay, and you’d told her that it was okay. But, you both knew.
As you’d walked home that night, every person you passed seemed to stare. Was your face still red, eyes puffy? Did they know? Did they know what you’d said? They must. Look at them. Staring. They know.
You’d walked more quickly. You needed to be home.