My love forever,
I would have preferred him to die; I would prefer the canal’s black water to be his own coffin, and as I sit here and watch its onward stream, I imagine, peeping so palely above the surface in the dark, a corpsey toe of his – a little green old toe. Let rough seas drag down his body during some courageous expedition; I would visit the pier from which he departed and contemplate the crashing waves, and perhaps a tiny tear would dampen my face and impress the stoic hearts of nearby fishermen. I wish that he had perished in some kind of noble exploit, but, of course, he didn’t. I am just drunk on a bench by the river, and, pathetic as ever, thinking of him. The first time he slid out of me with a wriggle like a worm, the theatrical force with which he pulled on underwear, my eye observed and my heart approved him. The smack of his boxer’s band against his stomach, the slap of his palm on my bum; I was from the first troubled by some unforeseen emotion, of which now I try to rid myself to no use.
We had met in a club, all around us the unce, unce, unce of pop songs throbbing throughout the dark room like the deep sea against a submarine, when suddenly and forcefully I swooned into his arms. Unce unce unce… he had been watching me all night, he said. I was ill-prepared to grow so fond of him. Come here to me with that big penis, I’d say, and he’d run over and with it wriggling in his hand like an apprehended eel he would whack me on the belly and in the face as I’d squirm away and scream. So handsome! I was happy in the brown hairiness of his big arms. He reminded me of people from home. I wish that I knew more about him, that I was wise up on his childhood games or teenage disappointments or drunken misadventures, but all I really know is that he was from a small town in the midlands and that his parents seemed to love him very much.
What lovely breakfasts in his lovely apartment. The force of his electric shower and the softness of his towels soothed me immensely. But there obviously came a stop to all the niceness, which happened one night when the Euros had just begun, and he had gone out to watch the match with a few of his mates; I had messaged him: gwan the Romanians lol. From the office I watched the crowds smoke and laugh and mill around pubs in the June night while at my desk I awaited his reply. Up and down the ugly buildings tricolours were festooned in zigzag formations, the green, white, and orange reminding me of being strapped into a buggy, watching parades in drizzle. I stared at my phone. By the next morning, I had heard nothing from him still, and I felt like a dog that, while playing catch, jumps too ambitiously, miscalculating – and so the flying ball smashes into its throat violently, its windpipe shattered, collapsed. So you’re ignoring me then, are you? I texted him after four days had passed. I heard nothing in reply. Fuck that! I said. I went out and got hammered and kissed somebody else, I badmouthed him in front of the girls in work and said, well, I was glad to be single, and I felt shame’s heat discolour my cheeks for I already had made a big deal out of something that hadn’t lasted very long and had been a fool. But a chuisle, a ghrá, a chroí; I was so sad. I went out and got drunk, but I felt that it would have been easier to wear a black veil, and to clutch the cold hand of a bullet-ruined body at a wake.
My friend and my love!
A thousands confusions since the unanswering of the text. I drift through most of the day in a woeful condition; from the top floor of the building, I gaze down at the street, at the offices opposite which contain our counterparts, at the black electricity wires whose overlaps, if I close one eye, outline crooked diagonals of pedestrians below. I search his name, I look at photos of him, I study the uploads of his poached eggs and craft beers, I crumple over in my chair all day long as if my skin were tissue-thin, and I suffer dreadful palpitations. But my fingers itched over this nothing to be done about a nothing. Once, desperately drunk and finding myself in the ladies’ toilets of his local, I attempted to scrawl with my lipstick his name and some slander on the walls; but I was interrupted by three other girls, and feverish mortification quickly made me wipe it away. The girls laughed at me, I laughed back at them; after I turned to write UP THE RA on the wall for their amusement, we became friends. Out of the loo, looking down, I noticed that I had stained my hands red; terrorised by tears and snot, I shook, laughing.
Nothing works, no photos of tiny animals can cheer me as before. I get drunk and I sleep, my heart always thumps in grief and hungoverness, my throat is always dry, my stomach evil. Tonight I have drunk substantial amounts. At first I was giddy, blooming in the pink glow of inebriation like a blushing bride, but the unce unce unce of the club and all the men there still in their work suits recalled him to me and squashed my happiness, and I fervently wished him attacked, for his dribble to run into the neatly shaven beard and for his knees to sink to the ground, for me to kiss his eyes and hold him as my hands became cups of blood. Mo ghrá go daingean thú! I fled from the club to the chipper, but its white tiles and neon signs closed in on me like some terrible hospital; I fled from the chipper to the canal. I get up from the bench, and I toss my bag of chips into the water as if a floral bouquet; I watch the chunks sink, but the spectacle does not satisfy. I return to ancient routines.
Clíodhna Walsh lives in Dublin and is a graduate of English at Trinity College, Dublin. She previously has been published in magazines such as The Incubator Journal and Corda Magazine.