Sitting before the three plate-glass windows, I felt rather beautiful. A strange power had crept over me and I felt like the seductress for once and all the cinema followed me.
I was in an unusual kitchen in an unfamiliar house. A throng of people upstairs and outside and in here I was alone. The dusky figures in the garden were screeching to their cigarettes and possibly saying interesting things but neither the rhododendrons nor I were really listening. I was focused on the figure seating himself away from me. It seemed to happen very slowly and perfectly. Now a bust across the table, he smiled and drank wine, looking through the windows with me. A small white vase contained a peony and it sat, huge and beautiful, at his chest. My forearms began to ache with the sting of unsaid things and I wondered if I would explode before I could speak. His mouth spread into a grin and now I saw the delicious line of his jaw forming and his nose spreading.

‘Did you come here for me?’
‘Not you, no. For India.’
Was this a lie? No, I decided, that was the truth. He laughed.

His chair was so neatly tucked under the sand coloured table. Mine was moved away- my legs were carelessly folded. How fitting, I thought. He drank a little more from his glass.

‘And you’ve been happy?’

I asked this because I knew he had and I wondered if it would make him think of when we had been in bed and I wonder if it would give him an erection by association. I had done this quite a bit when we were together.
He began to talk about his new boyfriend and his degree and my mouth moved to keep the conversation going but I was really looking into the garden, past the people and at the way a leaf was moving slowly back and forth, like a nod, revealing the glint of council flat lighting behind it (all orange and not at all white). And the orange of the light, blinking like the cats of my childhood, reminded me of the orange of traffic and the colours of the pavements in London when it rains and how beautiful they look from afar and when you reach it they are really just grey or blue-grey and not orange.
Moments ago I had felt a vast entity and now as he talked and talked and I nodded and nodded, my shoulders felt smaller and I felt sallower and the clothes I was wearing looked graceless. He was wearing something buttoned up to the neck. So clever, I thought.
Then I recalled this moment:

‘Do you like Pinter?’

A small Cambridge theatre is the scene.

‘Have you seen much?’

And now I remind myself I had lied twice. Why misshape my own identity to fit his crooked persona? Why do we lie to ourselves for love? I had never thought Pinter would play an important role in our life together. And I was right. Pinter had never been mentioned again. And yet it was perfect to think of as I sat and listened to him wax on about colours in his life.
I understood then that this strange feeling was not power but severance. Imagine the final burst of pain or breath after amputation and the rushing relief, the nothingness afterwards. Now I looked at him again and saw he had tried to grow a moustache and his collar fit too loosely and he might as well have been a stranger of the same name.
I said his name under my breath and I realised that my stomach no longer knotted. A smile spread across my face now and he asked what was funny and I said:


But I thought

‘Once I thought I would never forget you and now even your name has no meaning.’

And then I laughed and laughed and I closed my eyes and thought of the stranger in the silk shirt with the flat nose and eyebrows that I had kissed.
Now I looked at the garden bursting with life and long limbed. The sky was violet eyed and all the trees smoked with red.


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