It could have been a passionate love triangle, but he was always on his phone and I could never remember what colour her eyes were. She mistook everything for aging; teeth becoming transparent, grimacing in sunlight, a growing attachment to silence, coughing in the morning. There was not enough compression in their lives, and she wanted me to pay more attention to the signs, of which there were none. At night, in winter, her blood runs hot and she fidgets, anxious to have sex with someone who doesn’t have my smile. I see her first in a supermarket, lengthening a queue; narratives emerge and unravel in her face over the course of a shopping list. Her sighs are medieval and she looked different in every photo, but only from herself. She reminds me of dying, perhaps, but I don’t remember why. An age of sentimentality has eclipsed her friends and in its shade they create new concepts with which they attempt to justify their dislike for me. At the time I was dreaming of bright days, unemployment benefit and pussy so hot it would blister our fingertips. In the beginning she was allergic to her lover. Wherever he breathed, sores would emerge. Eventually the inside of her thighs looked like the craters of the moon. I wanted her a little less every time, but I still wanted her. Sooner or later we all get used to it, and she becomes inoculated against me, so it is time for him to leave in an inglorious kind of hand-me-down fashion. Often, when I am in storage, when I am stored, I pretend the other boxes contain monsters. This is the difference between you and me.
Made lonely by forces within her control, he is a centrifugal force which repels generosity, and she did not want to make the effort to be misunderstood. I spin away, forgetting. In her phone was his number and I could tell by the digits and the flat functionality of his one-syllabled name that too many opinions had closed him up. I call giddy children little bitches to their faces in order to regret it later, and sit at the edge of public fountains taking pictures of pigeons with her in the background, a blur on the edge of her own life. I can convince them to do anything. Frigidity and stasis were aspirations they slipped into, and since they had nothing good to spend their money on I had no guilt whatsoever when I spent it on tracksuits. I was always forgetting the things she didn’t do anymore. She lacks the necessary tragic moments off which to hang the loneliness of her nights. There is a certain boredom to his dreams and fears, which allowed them to bumble their way into marriage, a deeper pastiche of emotion, with the cruel and calm inevitability of a focussed child who destroys garden furniture at family barbeques. Their dreams were borrowed, but the pain was real.
You, I suspect, wake up in the night, eyes full of tears, missing your family because you are an uncaring son. I spend her mornings by the windowsill, thinking up excuses to continue wasting his time. It is enjoyable to become the cliché projected onto me. He once fell asleep on my shoulder during sex, which has made him fall in love with me. I have no potential anymore, not even his. You were the worst summer of my life, and everybody knows it. You don’t even want me, you just want children who look like me. Memories used to intoxicate me, but now everything is softer to the touch. Still, one day I will think of having memories fondly. Very occasional invitations seem incessant, and the mornings are quiet. My face is formless, but so is yours. Every time I close my eyes a fresh sensation buckles under my skin, sending a message out across the planet that you should open your eyes in the next room. After a certain point, life becomes similar to itself. Death becomes an indifferent prospect, like a forthcoming meeting with a distant relative at lunchtime. Too many headaches have taken the joy out of doing nothing, the little anxieties covered in festivals that invented the calendar, so I get a job. This is my final failure. You are about to witness the first victimless suicide. Not my own, of course, just the sanctity of my private life, which I used to call ambition.
I will never remember our first night together. On our second one, though, shadows fucked against the wall while we were asleep on our backs, not touching each other. Cold nose in the morning, a square of light on the wall, a shadow that nothing projects. These are the moments which tie together the message you never communicated. She shifted her failures off herself by blaming me, but some night responsibility must start and I won’t be in the building on the day that it all ends. I have a childish infatuation with large breasts, and she has a childish infatuation with being understood. The evenings were too long and dark to have no vices so she addicted me to hope; still, she was disappointed before I even took my clothes off. Many lives have a certain density that you can unravel in passing.
If I were ever to think of him, which I don’t, I would imagine he wanted to be obsessive, but was worried I would find his fixation unattractive so, inevitably, like cancer patients, we gravitate towards the gentle stability of hobbies. He had something to prove, but no one to tell. Our mornings together drained away like blood from a bag. Occasionally, I meet violent people and they are kind to me, sensing my neutrality in the face of life. The one time I saw him was in a social space full of self-impressed people making histrionic attempts to intensify their mediocrity by blaming it on me, because I am so beautiful and so frigid. There was a time, twenty years ago, he tells me, when being slightly retarded and giggling too much was attractive. We all miss those irredeemable days. She never belonged to me, but he did. I shocked him into a deeper lethargy than the one he had previously inculcated. He spent his whole life seeking women’s validation and then failed to recognise it on the one occasion I granted it to him. I gave him his only moments of life. My jealousy, which was beautiful, could have animated a certain, similar beauty in his features, if he hadn’t withheld the toll you must pay to lose something. I was the master of his sadness, but I never used it and she was never given the chance to reject me.
She had a cat called Franco. I once got her menstrual blood in my eye. The sun goes left and up. We had nothing to give. I forgot his name, so I give him my own. There are not enough of them to go round, in any case. I accumulate too many of the things given to me by bemused bystanders as the years go by. I must reuse these special, chosen names on newer lovers, which is the only betrayal for which I have ever felt any guilt. You are surpassed, not by time, but by the completion of documentation. The days are distinct, self-contained units, tied together by dietary habits. We immolate them with naps and when I wake up I remember the little moments of your face, and am always hungry and lonely, and the light is different and I am afraid. My life is full, like an overflowing dustbin. This love triangle has only one side. I was never fallen in love with.
She thought it was uncouth to laugh at people, and she read books on evolutionary biology, nodding her head too much. I play FIFA in the evenings next to my ashtray, finding solace in the weatherman’s more apocalyptic prognostications. I was too simple and loving for her, but also for me. When you start a relationship young the accident is written into the fabric of your life until you are a pervert, but if you don’t, you have not given yourself up with proper abandon to comfort. Under my dream of swimming in oceans of pussy there is no consciousness, just an empty space we don’t venture into anymore. There is nothing underneath these manners. I left my protective clothing in a drawer from my childhood and have been vulnerable ever since the map ran out of battery. She thinks she is unique, but I hate most people, too; I’m just too polite to say anything. He, on the other hand, like everyone, is enjoying the anonymity of my life. I thought I was the special one, but I have no way to show it. I will not think about her anymore. My opinion, or, perhaps, my closing argument, is that we are all unequal, and that I am the least.
Too much sex, like any other pastime, led to the stale discharge of timetabled perversity. When people talked to each other about fucking, glasses in hand, in smart clothes, after work, I had no idea what they were discussing. We are from a small nation so we are not private, we are resentful, which is, of course, a good thing. She is European, but not in the way she wanted to be. If Europe existed it meant fountains, stone buildings and other asinine totenkopfs. I do not build my empire around these things. She was stoned, busy, lazy on the weekends. The only truth that could destroy her would be the discovery I have made, and then hid, that she is almost boring. We are under the pillow somewhere. Items lose character, and the new is another category of loss. My face, unpainted, is architecture for the soul. Haemorrhoids appeared on his cheeks after the first year, scales on the soles of her feet the second, fish hooks for teeth when I die. My favourite word is disperse. Nothing is vital. The money he earned was mine. What was special about him was that there was so little of him that nothing was missing. She dreams of conversations where she can call things decadent, romantic, gilded, sumptuous, exquisite, but I never speak with my mouth full.
We can’t all be incandescent. Near the end, to make it the end, I put a lot of effort into fucking him, tantalising him with fake symbols. Painted nails, frills, razors, eyeliner, wiry hair, a kitten voice. I begged him to shower less often, not to wear shirts, deodorant or condoms, but he was a coward, and he used passing windows as mirrors too often for me to respect him. My lovers have all been puny and idiotic. I only half deserve them. If you take away jealousy, the greatest part of love is gone; and he is not jealous enough. I was the only one amongst the three of us who was jealous enough to merit fidelity. He looked more like a caricature of a man than he looked like a man. Sometimes I feel I am just one fuck away from happiness, but, of course, I always get a headache when I am happy. I would have liked one real lover who could dominate me on occasion, but, who, for the most part, was my bitch. Men are forever trying to get me pregnant just so they can fuck me in the third trimester. I wrap my legs around their backs when they start crying. I am a pair of jaws, a few eyes in a head, a feverous morning; my best quality is that I am unlikeable. Sensitive people, idiots, believe their passions to be rationality and mine to be cruelty, but jealousy has its rights, too, no? It has more rights due to it than your weakness does, despite your limp insistence. I would become a lesbian if women weren’t so boring and unattractive.
This longing is merciless. It is for no one, so it will never stop. Snow falling has the sound of rain making love, or perhaps of buried rain; I haven’t decided which yet, and there is no compulsion to decide. My own self, and the identity you attempt to thrust upon me, is a small compartment of a consciousness which is driven by pleasure, whereas your flailing self is driven by a wounded ego, which I have been obliged to call pain ever since you, armed with only your jarring sincerity and a spoon, ambushed me over dinner. The only thing more embarrassing than my hedonism is your moralism. I have always hated you since yesterday.
Her nightmares were monumental, historic schisms of the planet. Everything collides, and still nothing happens. I looked at her body, happy. I always want one moment less. It was then she was most inhuman, which I loved. I never remember her dreams. There is always some part of her left to fuck. Still, I would have liked to have spoken to him, one man to another, about how much we didn’t understand each other, but I could already foresee my desperation, his detachment, the swallowed sigh of her eavesdropping.
The only thing greater than my jealousy is my fear of losing you. I feel sick every time I think of the sex you had with other people. I used to go crazy because you weren’t a virgin. There is something unforgivable in the fact that you weren’t faithful to me before you met me; once you had met me, of course, I could understand then. You should have known you were mine since you were a child. There is a room in which his cock is being sucked. Everything drips out of my sex, constellations, blood, dreams, solitude, the future, romance, often nothing. Something else limps to the bathroom. He looks nothing like my mother, and I am in front of a computer screen, pretending I am able to sleep without you next to me. The truth is I am afraid of losing you, and the slightest request on my part will make you leave me. I refuse to live without you; I did that for twenty years, and I was not enough to manage it. You will leave me soon, though, and when you do my only victory will be that I was irreproachable. You can say this makes me weak, risible, hateful, but I would rather you saw me as something detestable than didn’t see me. I will never show you all these emotions you have conjured up in me, even at the single crucial moment that faces us all when we are alone in front of the one person we love. You only give me a headache, you just gift wrap it in lace.
The only way left to meet new people nowadays is to sleep with them. New rooms welcome you, messy and silent, unseen until dawn when everything is dizzy and I blur. A car passes by and I wish I was in it, being abducted by aliens, outlaws or, at the very least, family. In the earlier, more raucous days of dating sites terrible things happen. It slowly emerges I have slept with a man who dresses up as animated characters and goes to conventions on the weekends, an arts student who wants me to help him with his assignment, a man at least fifteen years younger or older than his profile suggests. I wanted something debonair and all I got was a certain frictionless side effect. Without projects, I drift towards the icy chill of cocaine, waiting for my twenties to end. An entire evening spent looking at the graffiti in a bathroom stall, waiting for you to finish speaking. I destroy friendships of ten years for a moment’s privacy. Guilt gives everything the warm shimmering tones of childhood. The only person who ever fascinated me is bald, a hundred and thirty kilos, Gargantuan, working class, the only man under forty I knew could wear a moustache without looking like a faggot; he ate the strangest food, the spinal fluid of tuna, the brains of sheep, the tongues of lizards, sucked joints like there is no time left, and fucked me like I wasn’t even in the building. He got into fights, and cried like a child watching films about Italian teenagers who fall in love. I don’t need sex, he would say to me, I only get head; which, to me, still seems extravagantly romantic. We are on a terrace overlooking the sea. Obviously, he doesn’t exist, but he must have been somewhere once.
That was the first time I saw you, my husband always says, because he hasn’t seen me since. I am unpicked by fingers. The greatest part of me is hidden, so don’t look under the covers. My life is a wreck. This iceberg is showing the most of itself. Being with you is like being alone, being with him is like being with too many people.
We were always disintegrating. I like her belly and her breasts, and I cheated on her twice and left in the process of her finding out. Hurt is a shorthand she writes because she doesn’t have the time to make me exquisite. The women I’ve disappointed only know what you don’t tell them. My ideas are for sale, and her identity is an illusion borne of his fear of being alone. It took me two months to forget I ever happened to them. I am forever reading horror stories to myself about her, aloud.
Issue 39, Volume 2: Winter 2018-19