Pedestrian Crashing

I have two faces
One of which you know
The other one for your sake
I never would show

~I Am Two People – Morrissey~

It was raining heavily when I left. It’s easy to become invisible in the rain. It’s easy to cry in the rain. I liked being out in it. I was a different person then, the person I had to hide most of the time. I walked slowly, avoiding the cracks in the pavement like I used to do when I was a kid. I looked up at the cloudy sky, enjoying the feel of the rain on my face. I watched the cars go by, wondering who was driving them, where they were going. Were any of them hiding?

One car further on down the road had broken down. Two people got out, slammed their doors simultaneously and then started shouting at each other. I watched them stand there in the street, wet through and turning the air blue. Other people were stopping to watch, as though the couple were monkeys in a zoo. The argument got louder and more heated and more people stopped to stare. I didn’t like to see people arguing, see people get angry or upset with each other. And I didn’t like the fact other people would happily stop and watch those personal, painful moments. Like car crash television, people are drawn in. This couple were providing public entertainment through their private life. I felt embarrassed for them and I quickly walked past, my head down.

You know how when you’re trying your best not to think about someone, you can end up seeing them everywhere you go. It happens all the time. You see somebody with a similar haircut, or wearing the same shirt, and your heart flutters slightly. I even got it with his car. I don’t know anything about cars but I could recognise his, and every time I saw one like it I would look twice, just to check. In the mornings I had to walk past the car park and I couldn’t stop myself from scanning the rows of vehicles to see if his was there. I always felt a little bit better when it was, knowing that I’d get to see him. When he started cycling to work I began to notice every time a man passed by on a bike. Of course it was never him but there was always that moment, just for a split second, where I’d think it might be.

When you’re desperate not to think about someone, it can seem like you can’t escape them. I saw him today. I was leaving work and he was crossing the road in front of me. He was with her and they were holding hands. I slowed my pace so that I would not catch up with them. I didn’t feel jealous of her, or even wish it was my hand in his. I just felt sad, and angry with myself for being unable to stop loving him. I stood in the street, turning round in circles, not knowing what to do or where to go. I knew how ridiculous I was. I’d have laughed but I was too busy trying not to cry. I imagined the three of us in the car park, each of them a shiny new Mercedes Benz, and me a child’s tricycle.

I never learned to ride a bike as a child. I can’t drive. I’d like to say I feel more stable with my feet on the ground but that’s far from the truth. I’m always unsteady, always stumbling and having to catch myself.

I remember walking past the scene of a very bad car accident as a child. Seeing that horrible twisted metal thing in the road and wondering what had happened to the people inside. Were they hurt? Dead? Did they hit someone? Did they hit an animal? I decided straight away that when I grew up, I would never ever drive a car. Things haven’t changed all that much. I might be a wreck, but at least I’ll never be in danger of hurting someone else.

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