A Glass Winter 8
By M T M
It shouldn’t be this hard. Every time I find myself alone, without distraction, it’s just one existential crisis after another. This can’t go on, this panic. Like nothing good is real. The desperate scramble to remember it; to remember it all. I want to know, but I can’t make sense of the world. I don’t know what’s right or what’s true. I don’t know if I’m mad or just – lost. I need something to hold onto, but not him, it can’t be him anymore. I’m terrified of most things, but nothing more than that inevitable future, droning closer like some great machine. They will all be fine, all the others. They never lose hope, because they believe that they deserve happiness, and they’re right. But what do I deserve? I can’t look ahead, for fear of this deep black pit I’m constantly condemned to circle. I can’t look back, that raging storm of unresolved terrors still rages at my back. I love my family. But I do not the love the fact that they will always be there, all at once hopeful and disappointed at the empty sum of my life. All my childhood, all I wished was for my mother to say this simple thing. It repeats in my head over and over and over. I hear her voice, but it doesn’t sound real. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do”.
He had come to drop off the divorce papers. The flat was a mess, although catastrophe might be more fitting, he thought, stumbling over books and boxes and dirty plates. Theo felt a sense of distant panic, she had clearly gone off the rails; but it wasn’t his responsibility anymore. He felt free, and anxious. She was not above revenge, he knew that from experience. Her poor mother. Pulling back the stained curtains he opened the length of the glass doors. Even the balcony was chaotic, broken bottles, cigarette butts, a towel stained with something akin to dried blood. Taking a straight from the pack on the table, he looked out at the familiar view, lighting it through blurred vision. Their life together here had been far from perfect, but it was theirs. Their violent mess, they owned it and were proud. Fragments of that life lay broken and scattered around him.
A gust of wind sent something rustling, under the leg of a side table was a stack of papers. The corner flapping lazily in the breeze to reveal a multitude of frantic scribbles. Vanessa. He would recognise her handwriting anywhere. Suddenly his heart dropped, he walked slowly to the railing and looked down, his head swimming; but the street below was bustling without disturbance. Not a suicide note then, he breathed and clutched a chair. Whatever he felt for her, even If some days he convinced himself it was hatred, nothing would let him wish for her death. They had shared so much, as much as it pained him to admit, she was a part of him. The thought of a coffin bearing her broken body. It was like tearing flesh.
Back in the kitchen, among the empty wine bottles, he found it. A small square of coarsely knitted fabric, green and white around the edge, Amma stitched carefully in the middle; perfect pink letters.
It was coming up on two years, since he’d left. Taken Amma, moved away with Mathew. Breaking away from her had taken everything for him, not least since he knew she wouldn’t recover. Whatever has become of her, he thought. Reading her letters didn’t shed much light, the same deathly romantic, self-satisfying musings as when they were together. Although they now had a defiance about them, as if she was planning something. Several times she mentioned judgment, the carrying out of some long overdue sentence. He felt a familiar impatience rising in him, nothing more than the delusions of a sick woman. Stowing Amma’s cloth in his pocket he made for the door, throwing Vanessa’s papers down on the counter. Before he made his escape however, something slipped out from the pile and glided neatly to the floor. It was a blueprint, a floorplan, Theo gazed at it; all along the margins were more frantic scribbles:
Huwlyt Hotel. Toilet: change into maids’ uniform. Staff change: 11:05. Fire escape. Fifth Floor.