by George Pringle
The more I thought about it, the more my life seemed to string together into disparate, insubstantial adventures. This was not to imply that my life had been in any way boring but it had been filled with forays into different worlds and constructed identities, all of which left me feeling I had no idea who I really was.
Who was this person, then, who had amounted to nothing? Who had washed up in a bar, in Lower Marsh. The bar was like a cavity on an otherwise smooth surface, somewhere people could go in and be dirty or escape into some kind of a projection of something that no longer exists. They would surface, glistening, back on the veneer. It was another business, staying here. All those customers, they walked away from this place…They went back to their clean homes, their office space. Or they didn’t, you know, sometimes they really lived it.
How had I ended up living it?
And I thought of all the times I had walked to the bottle bank and back, to the corner of Westminster Bridge Road. How many times I had lifted the lid to the bins and tipped the bottles in. And I thought of how many times I had felt different ways, doing so. In the summer, loose, with the through wind lightly lifting my skirt. In the winter, stiff. You would pant from the clammy bar feeling newborn and full of only your thoughts on this special, solo mission.
When the bin was almost empty, they clattered like a drunk on steep stairs. The bottles were individuals, sharp and hard, pronounced in their difference, sparking a round tone of tinnitus. But if they hit a bed of glass, the sound was short and fast, like two sticks on a skin. When you walked back with the beer box propped beneath your arm, you felt just like a rock star.
I suppose I never saw this period as infinity. I thought it was a stop-gap, an inter title in the “Big Story”.
And all the while, this surface had been changing from bright white, to rotten. The hair had been blonde and tiger stiped, there were jeans and pumps and oversized Tshirts. Sometimes the hair was black as night and then, again, brown, it was with a fringe before it got mouse and short. The body was very thin, the skin, very white…the clothes were neat and 60s, (with little court shoes) before I got tanned and golden brown, (the weight had been 49 kilos). There were spots on my chin. The body got larger (less empty) and all that was worn were flannels and shorts. By then the girl was a woman (she grew some breasts). The body that had been chubby at sixteen, had been a woman at sixteen was now just a normal body, a normal size, not fat, not thin, not adult, not child. And the hair was just brown now, only it showed a few greys.
When I got to the end of my Aperol Spritz, I was convinced I would go home and die. I was sure my sadness could really kill me. Not like I would kill myself or anything but more like, my sadness would do it. It would come up behind me and do me in. I’d never have to be a success. I’d just be some freak, smothered by sadness.
“The first woman to be smothered by sadness”.
I had a haunted feeling when I looked at the clock. It was only 5 o’clock. The whole evening stretched before me.
No, this won’t get the better of me. I checked my phone…if there were just someone with whom to drink…no, there wasn’t. I would surely go home and expire, then. Hadn’t I done with these lonely evenings?
Shouldn’t it always be fun and company, forever? Parties and Spritzes…anything to avoid going home, to sit with your phone and your thoughts:
I sucked up the last additives from the ice. I split the straw with my teeth and thought:
“Some people are born lonely.”
I wondered what is was that made it this way. What made some people lonely, every place they went? I got up and left. I walked into town. I walked past all the restaurants where people were clinking their glasses and tucking into their food. It was cold. I walked the route I always walked, through Covent Garden, into Soho.
I won’t go home…
News pieces, reiterating the hell we live in
Simulation of Human Company
Post a book on instagram…
“See, I’m really rather clever”
It was some business, this being alone
Then there was dinner to look forward to, too…
Cous-cous (with vegetables)…
The uninspired egg…
…on its bed of luscious lettuce
(half a can of tuna)
There were endless salads to be had…
and the king of everything:
The Lonesome Steak
That’s all you’ll have: