Their Final Conversation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
‘I hate the names you call me’ he said, forking a potato chunk.

Submitted: February 18, 2008

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Submitted: February 18, 2008

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‘I hate the names you call me’ he said, forking a potato chunk.

 

‘The names?’ she asked, assuming he meant the insults they traded during their marathon vitriol-sessions. She wasn’t concerned, however. Just interested.

 

‘Yeah, the names. You know… The way you call me Dogboy. Muffles. Sharky. All those dumb pet names that amuse you. They were all only for your benefit. They helped you to objectify me and make me a safe person to be around. It had nothing to do with affection. Just the fact that you’re scared of men’

 

He sniffed, then pronged another prawn.

 

‘Really? You think that? Because I always thought you liked it’, Michelle insisted.

 

‘I hate it. Hated it, even’

 

It was a relief to talk about it in the past tense.

 

‘I was never too keen on being called ‘Sugar’, she replied.

 

She winced as she said it.

 

‘I didn’t have the heart to tell you’

 

They both smiled and giggled at one another’s foolishness.

 

‘How’s your starter?’ he asked.

 

‘It arrived a little too lukewarm for my liking’

 

Their last visit to what was once their favourite restaurant. It seemed apt that the food wasn’t up to scratch – indicative of a constant, slow collapse. He suggested they finish after one course and just finish the wine. She agreed.

 

‘So’ he continued, ‘tell me what you hate about me’

 

She briefly looked nervous, but then saw his congenial expression and wasted no time in telling him.

 

‘So many things, if I’m being truthful’

 

‘Start at the beginning and work them through. It’s better that we get it out in the open. Remember, you don’t owe me anything. I’ll do the same when you’ve finished’

 

‘Have you got all night then?’ she joked.

 

He smiled and looked bashfully away.

 

‘I think the main problem is that you wouldn’t speak, sometimes for weeks on end. You just became detached. Left the bills for me to deal with, got confused about money, never fed the cat’

 

‘I was depressed. Still am. You depressed me. You made me fucking miserable’

 

‘You depressed me too, Michael. You always turned it on yourself. You were the one who was depressed.  I was never allowed to talk about how low I became just from living with you’

 

‘That’s why we’re talking right now. Carry on, I guess’ he tried to remove himself from the criticism.

 

‘Ok. So there was the detachment. The obliviousness. But then, perversely, there were the times when you were so happy, manic almost. I couldn’t keep up with you. One minute sulking, then the next the life and soul. The last to leave the party. Always drunk’

 

‘You weren’t exactly teetotal yourself, Sugar’

 

He shrank back as soon as he said it. She threw him a sharp look, before withdrawing it, realising his mistake and smiling. It didn’t matter, after all.

 

He grew bold after this acceptance. ‘In fact, you were more piss-drunk than me, more often. And you flirted outrageously, in front of me. I couldn’t work out if it was simple naivety on your part, or whether you knew what you were doing. I was caught between wanting to keep you safe and wanting to throttle you for belittling me’

‘Ah yes’ she said, picking up the baton. ‘I was wondering when we’d get to your jealousy’

 

Hearing that word again, for possibly the last time, he grinned and looked around the room. It would be a relief to get away from that word. He looked around the restaurant, nodding in agreement. He was a jealous man. It was impossible to deny.

 

‘Everything out of proportion’ she said. She didn’t need to say any more.

‘So, are we still fine with ending it?’ he asked, lifting his hand and miming a cheque-signing, catching the waiter’s attention.

 

‘I’m certain. We have to end it. This will be our last moment together.’  He nodded. ‘Can you believe that?’ she asked, shaking her head, pursing her lips.

 

‘I can believe it. I can embrace the end. I’m not frightened. Are you frightened?’

 

‘Not at all’

‘Fancy a final cigarette out on the roof garden?’ he asked, pulling a packet from his pocket.

 

‘Sure’

 

Out on the terrace, the stood by a shrub, overlooking the street below. Michael offered Michelle a light and they stood in silence, dragging lightly on their cigarettes.

 

‘Shall we go? After we finish these?’. She lifted her cigarette and watched the spark burn down, faster than usual, the sky sucking the smoke from it.

 

‘Yes’, he replied.

 

He dropped his onto the floor and stamped on it, extinguishing it in a mess of tobacco and ash. Michelle did the same.

‘They held hands for the last time, watching the chain of headlights, miniscule below them, fluttering along the road in a parade, either side of the white lines. The distant cacophony of car-horns and revving engines formed a soft white noise. The traffic lights were red, all the way down below them.

 

‘When that light turns green, we finish it. For good’

 

‘She murmured her agreement.

 

In a second, the lights flicked to amber and then, almost instantaneously, to green.

 

‘Go’, Michael ordered.

 

In perfect synchronicity, they stepped off the edge of the building, one foot after the other, holding hands for as long as they could, until wind resistance and gravity tore them apart. A handful of seconds later, they landed twenty feet apart. Crunched into abnormal, oblique positions by the waiting pavement, they lay bathed in the glow of streetlights, their final date at an end.


© Copyright 2017 Swineshead. All rights reserved.

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