Back To Normal?

Entry by: jaguar

29th August 2017
I close the door on Kris a little too firmly. Lock it before he’s two steps down the path. The path away from me back to his arty-farty existence, his highbrow friends, his glittering bloody life. I hope one of my feral neighbours has keyed his Audi TT, I really do. That Irish git, Terry, I once saw putting a tack in my tyre for parking outside his house. I hope Terry’s done that and Kris’s tyre blows when he’s driving too fast on the M25. Back to Gatwick, out of here.

But I don’t hope that and I find myself clutching the banister, crying to release those pent-up tears. Maybe because all the things I once thought I could be went with him today. I shut the door on them when I asked him to go. He came in here thinking I was still the person he knew two years ago. His expectation was like standing in front of one of those trick mirrors where you appear four times your real physical size.

My heart and mind are huge but I’m a little, shrunken thing, not much more than bones. I’m fierce yes, concentrated but I have no substance, even I can see that. I’m like the bits left behind when you peel a plaster, press it on a wound. All that I was have been applied to your wound and I’m those irritating bits of chaff left behind. I could hear my little bleating voice when Kris asked how we were. How it produced scrapings of a life.

‘Oh Ryan’s stable,’ I said, ‘he’s doing really well.’

‘Is he?’ Kris stood too close to you, you hate it when the light’s blocked, when you can’t see that silver birch’s leaves flickering. They make you smile, sometimes you move your head and I can tell you’re dancing with them, you hear their music. ‘The guys and I have talked about what we can do. We’re happy to help financially. You could move Ryan into one of those fancy clinics. Switzerland say. We’ll pay for the best.’

‘Thank you. Can I think about it?’ I bend my head to disguise the pinpricks of tears. We’ve been struggling with money and your bandmates don’t owe you really. Well apart from the fact that you were the band, the frontman, the composer, the life and soul. Still it’s generous of them and I’m touched even if I’m unconvinced we could get better care than we have right here. Your sister does your physio and the gentle way she teases as she pushes you breaks me up. Your mum cooks for us, she’s spent weeks on the internet researching the best nutrition after a stroke.

I look at you. Your pupils are more dilated than I’ve seen them before. I try to read you, searching for the person I love buried alive in this scrambled egg of a brain, this almost static body. It’s silly how I clap when icebound muscles start to twitch. I hunt expressions in your eyes, sometimes I think I catch them but then they’re gone. I squeeze your hand for hours trying to make you understand I’m here whatever, I will always be here. I squeeze it now and you blink twice at me.

Which startles me. Years ago that was our symbol for telling each other we didn’t like where we were. Two deliberate blinks meant I want to leave. Are you trying to tell me you want to go to one of those clinics? ‘Let’s ask Ryan.’ I say.

Kris was at the door, he jerks back round. ‘Are you mad, Marie? Ryan’s a nothing now. He can’t express an opinion. I just don’t get…’ His eyes dart around the room from me to Ryan to the sickroom stuff.

My voice is ice. ‘What don’t you get, Kris. It all seems rather starkly clear to me.’

‘I don’t get you. Why are you still here? It was bad enough you chose him over me back then but now? What’s wrong with you Marie? I’m making this offer to free you. Don’t look like that. I’m not a monster, I don’t expect you to be with me. Ryan would be expertly cared for and you could do whatever you wanted with your life. Remember that – having a life?’

I swallow. We had a thing, back in the day, Kris and I. We were different people once, both less layered, closer to our sensitive cores. He’s piled on a few personas since then, almost believes his own hype. I don’t think there’s any vestige of the boy who saw me as an equal, a life partner. I shake my head instinctively and as my viewpoint changes I see Ryan shake his. He clearly shook his head.

‘Get out of here. We don’t need you. We’re getting back to normal.’