You’re Tearing Me Apart

“No,” she said, “He says it like this.” She put her hands up to her temples and screwed up her face. When she looked up again it was with a bright smile. “Makes me laugh every time.”

How long had we been talking? The hands of the clock had sagged and picked up again. The ticks blurring into a perfect mosquito drone. From street to flat, I had kept pace with her after we met, street to stairwell. We said our hellos by the town shops and chattered as we walked: the previous night’s TV, an advert that she hated, a song sung by someone else. These were what we were built on. The theme tunes to children’s television shows, the films that we could recite.

And we talked. At the foot of her bed we discussed the configuration of the scars that we had earned, and talked about the heat haze that covered the memories of our childhood summers. There were pauses and sharp bursts of silence, but the paragraphs were punctuated by gleeful bursts of laughter and of song.

And in the second year there were tears, as we continued our conversation. Great gulping sobs that wrenched the air from the room, but then, we had expected that. And after the tears had dried there was something like calm, and that calm lasted for another seven years.

And we talked. She gave me the details of her childhood crushes, enumerating the kisses on bedroom posters and the furtive glances in school hallways. I counter with bathroom adventures and woodland pornography. It goes back and forth. It gets deeper as the silences grow.

And even now, when things have gone on long enough for the clocks to rust and the dust to pile like grey felt along the lintel, there are things to find out. She touches a battery to her tongue, but shakes her head. Nothing.

And she asks about moments of despair, and I ask about why she bites her nails. There’re moments where the skin feels thin around her heart, she says. We hum a tune together, and it breaks into staccato fragments on our cracked lips.

And finally, when there’s really nothing else to say, she puts her hands up to her temples and screws up her face one more time; spitting the old words of her impression back out at me.

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Douglas Noble was born in Scotland and grew up all wrong. Don't blame his parents though, they tried their best.

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