For better, for worse, for fucking, for fortune, for freedom; to love, lust, lies; to separate lives; where every touch matters; where no smile is serenity; so people suss us out, so people get it so, so wrong, so I can’t imagine what I’ve done; when a dream has changed.
And yet while we walk together, faces reddened by rain, you slip your hand into the corner made by my elbow as my digits freeze in sodden jeans pocket; and for all the passing world your gesture speaks of happy coupling.
And heads bowed alittle against the paintstripping wind along these canals we stride arm in arm past crazy displays of neon promising carnal carnival. We enter a sex shop together and look at pictures in gleeful disgust. The rest of the vultures and voyeurs are cocked; they see a pair of youngish lifers sharing a moment amongst the delusive array.
Inside a coffeeshop we study a menu, heads close and excited ears warming from our night escape; the great guy behind the counter comes up with a wisecrack and we laugh in tandem and his demeanour tells me that he, too, is caught in this horrible game.
The restaurant is a mixture of familiar tastes and exotic spices, and there is far too much to eat. We do our best to demolish the platter but in the end can only sit back defeated, conversation stilted by puffed-out cheeks and belchladen bellies. When the waitress brings the wrong bill, the three of us share the mistake with conciliatory giggles. She’s pretty as she walks off smiling to tell her workmates of her mixup with the satiated lovers; my eyes catch yours, but my gaze is destined for my feet because all I sense is a glassy wall.
We speak of past lovers and drink from small but potent lagers. The bottom of the glass distorts the faces round the bar but yields no answers. I vow to keep looking. Our chattering is chilliladen for sure, and though our voices are low we look round at intervals for eavesdroppers. There are none. As we leave this comfort together the barman wishes us good health. He’s friendly and good-looking like a ruggledy action film extra you say. The wind is still high, and I wait for your touch again; but you blow into your hands before dragging your sweater over your knuckles.
While you bathe alone I find football on the television. The bed is luxuriant, with just room enough for us to spend the night at opposite sides without skin sharing skin.
Time, I muse, has wandered on its unending path, and left me indulgent with memories. Your breathing is adagio now so I get up and piss; the man in the mirror is trying to tell me to speed to the next symphony.
I don’t want to listen.
But I have no option.
And so I do my best wrysmile, hold in my stomach and begin to construct a new potential; but the spot inside my elbow wants to hold on to the rascally recollection of the minutes not so long ago where we fooled the world, and ourselves.
As the TV burbles I sleep, but I don’t dare to dream this night; because night-fantasy can too easily debase daytime deception.