And so, I am left unable to walk. Miserable and panting on a parkside bench. To my distaste, I’ll hear you laugh in the distance at a passing joke from a passing person. A she, a her, a darling, a love. I, on the other hand shall just sit quiet, my hands furled in my expansive lap. Staring at my mottled legs, listening. Talking, you and she discuss the idea that electronic music just isn’t ‘real’ music. That Zappa or The Beatles find much more appreciation in your ears. Your ears. They’re not hairy like your dad’s yet. Although your back is like a carpet, and I enjoy stretching my fingers into your soft bristles. You hate it and squirm away. She hasn’t unveiled your back hairs yet. As I am left unable to walk, I watch as you stride off with her in tow. Catching the bus down into town. The exciting, glistening city. You wear your green mandala shirt and those famous dog-tooth trousers. The fly and button worn. I suppose her legs and her ability to use them were what attracted you to her. Dressed well in suede heels, although still victim to a cobble or three. I am left unable to walk, so I can only sit and watch you from the shelter as you kiss her, staining her to be your next catch. I yearn, leaning forward, head in hands. You miss the bus home, but fish a number from her. It’s going well, so you take a road trip, flying south for the summer in her little black Fiat. Down the M6, as fast as the 09 plate can move, starving to be alone together. Setting up the tent amidst the bees with fleeting, stolen kisses and playing ball on the tender two-inch grass. Green feet and dewy hands subduing youthful urges, beaded upper lips. I am left unable to walk – so watch the game from afar and feel the heat prickle my neck as you catch her and lock your face upon her cheek. It’s overcast today.
She meets the family, spends a Christmas at your home. Playing party games with your mother – her name on the gift list. You choose to move in, picking colour schemes and tea towels. Bath mats and pans moved – a glass slips from her hand and she calls you one night to the bathroom.
You watch in horror as she wakes one morning, soaked in blood, the mattress sodden, the life from her eyes melted. You watch in horror as she develops lumps, smooth stoic lumps on her sweet, beautiful legs – her flesh purple. You watch in horror as she falls down, taking everything with her in the night, calling for help into the black staircase. You watch in horror as she becomes stagnant, throwing pillows and howling into them. You watch in horror as she disintegrates through your fingers. You watch in horror as the doctor tells her there’s nothing to be done – that it’s terminal and it’s costly and it’s scary and her eyeballs will roll into her guts or she’ll vomit at the sight of life and more damned medication. Or that she’ll need a shrink, too, because obviously she’s going mad and they ‘just don’t understand, Mr O Connor, that it’s all in their head’. Have you tried ibuprofen? Or that she’s exhausted, dragging her feet into her next job but bouncing her legs under the table. She just wants to feel desirable again – to remind herself she’s still in there – but does she still own red lipstick? She lies awake terrified because there are other women out there with other legs. Her voice is fading fast because the clutch on her throat is staying with a wine stain vengeance. She needs to remind him that she loves him. She appreciates him. Four times a day. Too ashamed to give up the last of her pride to admit that she is part of the problem – but that she can’t smile without him. She promises she’ll take the medication, she promises she’ll go to the therapist. She promises to be better and stronger and she’s still trying and he’s still there, beside her. Standing in the kitchen, armed with those bald ears and a bowl of ice cream every single day. Still yet to think of any man who would do the same. She can’t stand to be without him, but still, I am left unable to walk.