Centre Cannot Hold

Entry by: jaguar

25th October 2017
‘The centre cannot hold.’ You mutter it over and over again.

I stare at your face trying to gauge your meaning. The political system, your own state of mind, the engine of this car you’re driving or the earth itself? I won’t ask because I decided, nearly a year ago, to never let you know how little I understood you.

Which was either madness or genius, I won’t know until I work out which is true of you – madman or leader. I won’t let myself dwell on all those who proved to be both. You are one or the other and I am whichever’s left.

It’s one of those nights when it’s easy to believe the world has ended and we’re the only ones left alive. I used to have that fantasy when we first met. People kept saying you weren’t good enough for me. If there was some kind of apocalypse they’d realise how handy it was to have a man who could build things, defend himself and me, start fires with bits of wood. If the world as we knew it ended I wouldn’t have to justify choosing you.

Instead of ending the world you transformed yourself. You took degree after degree, clawed your way up ladder after ladder. Now I feel as if it's me that's lacking, holding you back. Even your accent has lost some of its gravel but what else have we lost?

We’re not alone tonight there’s a lorry up ahead. I glance at the speedo at we swish towards it. You drive so smoothly I hadn’t realised we were doing 90. Why are we going so fast? What’s at stake here? For months and months I’ve felt as if I’d been possessed. My body is sluggish, my mind syruped, obsessed with trivia it would never normally hold. I used to be super-sharp, witty, fit. Now I think of myself as bovine, always chewing, slow to think or move. I am afraid this state is permanent, that my true self has been squeezed out and it’s your fault. You wanted me docile, hobbled.

It's you who diminished me. You kept showing me images of how much better our lives could be. You kept a constant check on my health, my activities as if I wasn't adult enough to run my life. You stopped me drinking or taking anything, even painkillers. Nothing could pass my lips that might magnify me enough to fight back. I wasn’t supposed to get angry or depressed. You were forever shushing me. You tried to stop me feeling. You acted as if our future had nothing to do with me, as if I didn’t own my body. It was something to be used, ruined and thrown away.

I hate you. As we pass the lorry I scream as loudly as I can. I'm sure the driver hears but he looks at me, at you and his gaze drops. You don’t take your eyes off the road but go even faster. You’re trying to kill us both. You come off the motorway and the car slides and the wheels screech as you corner. I join in, putting every whiplash of fury into a sound that expresses how frightened and helpless I feel. This road is heavily wooded either side and looming shapes flash by. I know they’re nothing but my mind is full of wolves. I am in the middle of nowhere with a madman who’s taken over not just my life but my mind and body.

You turn the car again. I hold my breath and everything else trying to keep myself intact, trying not to let go of what’s precious to me. You stop in front of an enormous building. The lights make me blink as you get out of the car and come round to my side. You open the door. I shrink back into the seat in dread of what's coming next. The seat is wet.

‘It’s alright honey. We’re here. You did it. The centre held. Let’s go and have our baby.’