art by Jonathan Westbrook
You've Ruined This For Me
by Ewan C. Forbes
The skies were burning outside my window but I paid them no heed. During a break up, it is amazing how long it takes for information from the outside world to seep through. My phone had been ringing for days but I was in no mood to talk. When I finally noticed the storm outside it seemed fitting. As far as I was concerned it was pathetic fallacy.
I moped around the flat. Moping was all I had the energy for. I tried to do it without looking at things. Everything reminded me of her: the photos, the dirty dishes, the books, the posters. Everything. I noticed that the t-shirt I was wearing was one that she had bought me. I use her shampoo, so even my hair reminded me of her. I cut it off.
I tried to go back to bed. Before her, I used to sleep on the left. Later, facing the wall was the norm because the left became her side and I didn't want to choke on her hair as I slept. I tried sleeping on the left again but I got no satisfaction, and so I turned over, defeated. The screams from the street outside made sleep difficult to achieve, but I'm a pro and soon I was napping.
When I woke up I was thirsty, so I went downstairs to make some tea. As I added the milk I realized I'd made tea her way, with the milk added before the teabag was removed. Betrayed by my autopilot. As I sipped the tea I looked around the room. I counted the items that, before her, I would have bought in different brands: washing-up liquid, the detergent, the soy sauce, the bread, the olive oil... Then I counted the electrical items that belonged to her: the toaster, the microwave, the grill, the electric tin-opener...
"Pretty soon it's just gonna be me and you," I said to the kettle.
I turned the television on. I wasn't ready to take in information but I was sick of silence. I pressed buttons on the remote randomly, flicking through with no care for what channels came up or what was on them. Everything looked the same. There seemed to be a lot of news on these days. My persistent channel-surfing limited my awareness to the bare details: earthquakes here, typhoons there, hurricanes to the North, forest fires to the South. Nobody looked happy. The phone started to ring again. I ignored it. Eventually, after what might have been hours, I fell asleep again.
When I woke up the television was silent. "Due to technical difficulties we are unable to continue the broadcast" was a message that seemed to crop up on about half the channels I flicked through. The rest seemed to have a lot of people singing hymns. I hate Sunday television.
I made some more tea. The phone started ringing again and, in a moment of weakness, I picked up. I could barely make out what was going on. The line was bad.
Static followed by the faint sound of somebody's voice. I couldn't make it out.
"The line's bad, call back later."
It is horrible to note just how obsessed with another person it is possible to become. Some people get obsessed early on, others afterwards. I chose afterwards, although I was now beginning to wish I hadn't. I tried to think about what I'd do now, who I'd contact. Everyone knew both of us. If it turned out that our friends chose sides, I knew that my lot wouldn't be large enough to put together a football team, even a five-a-side. Despite not becoming obsessed, I'd let my friendships fall by the wayside. Friendships are like flowers: if they are not maintained they wither and die. I was down to my cactus-friends. I thought about calling one of them later, letting them know what happened. Maybe I'd do it, I'd have to see.