So I acted normal, I cooked dinner and we ate together. I smiled and hoped that you wouldn’t notice, underneath my mask of contentment, not far beyond my smile, the shape that was forming somewhere in me.
I hated you a lot. When you threw me on the floor at Vera’s party, and knelt on my throat, and when people came to my rescue and dragged you off me, you took a knife and sliced your arm. I spent hours in A&E with you, I sat next to you and hated you a lot more.
I used to lay next to you listening to you snore soundly. I watched your eyeballs move under your shut lids. I hated you at my leisure as you slept.
I imagined ways to leave you. Meeting someone else, falling in love with them and that love would give me the courage to leave you and a reason to.
I knew for definite that I would leave you, I just wasn’t sure when that would be. I imagined that I would need lots of money. A deposit for a flat and transport money and courage. I knew that I needed lots of courage and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get that.
Trying to summon up courage felt like attempting to light a fire without flint or paper or wood. How could I light a fire with absolutely nothing? And if I did find courage, if I found some wouldn’t you just squeeze it out of me.
I kissed you and said ‘see you later’. I walked to work. I didn’t take my handbag or wallet. I took my keys.
I never went home to you again.
In my green shoes I kept walking. Along the beach and in the fields. My ears attuned to shouts and laughter. Sometimes I think that I’m patrolling myself, being given mindful and happy to be moving forward. I listen to snippets of conversations. A man’s shout accelerates my heart beat. I look at faces please. I recognise the expression on the woman’s as she appeases him in his grumpy gloom. Her eyes darting from him to somewhere a long distance away. A place that she knows exists beyond this. A land where she is valued and not ridiculed. I see that in her face. I want to tell her that it is possible and real and easier than she thinks.
I walk towards the pier. I tell myself, ‘good on you, you did it, you got away’, and how great that is.
I used to be surrounded by people; children, family, friends, work colleagues. But now I’m happy alone. Sometimes I imagine that loneliness will gobble me up, but that hasn’t happened. I’m still here and loneliness is over there and we are friends now. Sometimes I allow loneliness to visit me. After a few hours, when I’ve had enough of its company, I ask it to leave and it does. Occasionally it out stays it’s welcome and I have to resort to large amounts of cake or chocolate, it scurries off quickly when that happens. After the visit, it leaves me a message or a riddle, and it takes time to unravel it, days even.
In my green shoes I stand, no wallet, no nothing, just me.. And I’m going home when I want to, or not. I’m eating or sleeping when I want to or not. And I feel courageous and I don’t hate anyone and you are a very long way away. A lot going time ago.
I imagined a place that she knows.
Not far beyond my smile
I didn’t take my handbag
In my green shoes and a deposit
I wasn’t quite sure of cake
Or flint or paper loneliness
I listened to faces in love
And lit a fire with courage.
My name is Eileen, I live in a village with my son and my cat. I used to be a magicians assistant but I’m claustrophobic so that didn’t work so well. I don’t like goats cheese. I love velvet and Patsy Cline. I hate social media but I’m hooked.