Wednesday, 17 December 2014

All That We Wish Changed

It changed.
Yes, what changed, when?
What is 'it' and when did it change? Ponytail, aka Dr Whatshername, enunciates the words with frustration. I despair at my new ability; convoluted thoughts carouselling on the white noise in my brain. My thoughts are entropic, sliding into unmaking before they are made, before they are solid.

I stop gazing at the wall behind Ponytail. I look down at my knees, close my eyes and go hunting for what was 'It'. Come on Jo, you can do it I encourage myself, my own silent cheerleader. Go, Jo. Go...ahh, yes, It is, or should I say, She is Therese. It is all about her, isn't it? There 'it' is. There she is, Therese and her melting smile. I look up at Ponytail. She is waiting, impatience etches her face. Eyes like daggers and the thick rimmed glasses flimsy protection for me. If looks could change.
Yes - the room refocuses, settles around me again, white walls, metal chairs and table, recording device, straightjacket, all where they should be. Yes, I speak up, it changed, it all changes when Therese disappears.
Yes (is Ponytail obtuse or obfuscating?), disappeared, went missing.
How went missing?
(Jeez, she is dumb or I am, if I knew that, if I'd known that I wouldn't be here, would I? I want to shout. I don't, but I do shout for I am suddenly full of the blessing of Therese, can see her gentle, mocking eyes, her hands reaching for me) You SEE, It was a kind of reunion.
Reunion? Ponytail's voice is skeptical.
Well, I had not seen her for two weeks
Not long really, she maintains her tone
(Not long, not long, how dare she, it seemed like an age)
No, I guess not, I reply, becalmed.
But the thought of us being together lightened my load, that week.
(Yes, load. Load, you dumb bitch. Her snide interjections are exasperating me)
Yes, things had changed at work and not in a good way.

I remember Jean's gallic shrug when we returned to our desks after Anna's peptalk that Friday. I'd just checked my email for the confirmation. Sure enough, it was there, a little red flag next to the subject line indicating its utmost priority. Must be accepted. Must be read. 'Naught may endure but mutability Jo' quoted Jean, standing next to me, holding up my coffee mug in sympathy. I remember thinking that that was a bit rich, coming from someone who was a permanent member of staff. I remember wanting to take the mug and throw the hot liquid over him.

How, not in a good way?
I'd lost my job. I scowl at her. Ponytail ignores that.
So, Therese had been away.
Yes, in La Rochelle
Ponytail nods, hair swinging. And was coming back to Paris that day?
Yes, Friday.
The day you lost your job?
YES, I am shouting again, but that didn't matter, nothing, no other change mattered when I received her voicemail. You, YOU don't know.

I remember the voicemail. After I'd restrained myself from burning Jean with coffee, I'd sat back on my chair. I had a few hours to clear my desk but no inclination. I seemed to be floating on the
chair, in it but not. Light headed, disembodied, I was brought back to reality when my phone started vibrating across the desk. Click, electronic voice - you have one new message, press 2 to listen. Click. And then, her honeyed tones, and my heart is in the receiver.
'Ca va Jo? Listen I return to Paris tonight and I must see you. I have been thinking, thinking and making a decision. Meet me at the usual place, 6.30. Okay? I'll tell you all then. J't'aime cherie.' Her voice tilted with the endearment and, click, was gone.

You don't know what she is like!
Tell me, Ponytail is calm, mollifying with her hands.
She is the wind at your back, filling your sails with the beauty of promise, of change.
That word again?
Yes, but in the best, the most wonderful of ways.
So, you were excited at the prospect of seeing her again?
Err, yes! (She is dumb)

My face is hot with an image of Therese. The morning sun across rumpled bed sheets, framing her in sleep, highlighting an expression of contentment that ached my heart.

But that Friday?
All that we wish to stay?
Tempts and then flies, I finish the wounding quote.
She did not arrive at your rendezvous.
My flush fades, Therese's image has flown away. The room is at once cold.
No, I whisper.

Copyright 2014 Gabrielle Goldsmith

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