I have been meaning to write about you — get you out of my system, so to speak. But I did not know where to start. So I made mental notes (elaborate ones), cosy in the warmth of the memories I raked up, reassuring myself that the year that we did not speak was an aberration. Surely you were only taking time to fit in with your new surroundings. And we had always been like this, hadn’t we? Holding grudges, waiting for the other person’s resolve to break… I also knew, of course, that I was deluding myself. You were running away. What from, I do not know. You never did show me your demons.

I have also been meaning to write to you. I have a few questions, you see. But I was afraid that you wouldn’t — couldn’t in fact — answer; more afraid I wouldn’t like the answers I got if I am being honest. So I tried to ponder them myself. I rummaged through the accusations gathering in my mind, set aside the sense of betrayal, put myself in your shoes — or so I told myself — and asked myself why you wouldn’t speak to me. I discarded that question immediately. There was no point making accusations. Why then, when my mind was full of the noise of a shovel scraping dirt into a grave, did you not answer my letter? But that sounded like another allegation. I was determined not to blame you so I put off writing to you as well.

I went back to the note-making; this time, listing down memories in a draft email. I would start at the beginning I decided. Difficult task, though, if you ask me. I am a sub editor now you know, so the items on the list had to have links, “flow from one to the other”, to borrow the words of my editor. It was only their tenuous connections that kept me from writing really. I changed tack, decided to begin at the end this time. This brought on a fresh round of list-making. This is how that list reads so far: Heat/Ashes; Smell/Charred; Dawn/Endless wait; Harvey two-face; Cold/Slippery; Stench; Wait. But I didn’t like the way this list was progressing either, so I let it gather dust in the drafts folder.

I immersed myself in work, busied myself with the lives of others until I believed — foolishly as it turns out — that I had well and truly buried you inside my head. But out you popped again. Someone mentioned a pyre and there you were, in my mind’s eye, your face forever altered, your clammy ice-cold skin smelling like the school biology lab, being rolled into a cavernous tunnel that was beginning to glow. And just before the door clanged shut, I watched — fascinated — the fire come alive. Its vivid orange glow took me back to the afternoon we sat mixing paint in our favourite patch of sunlight. And for the first time since that fateful phone call, I could clearly picture your face. The face has disappeared; all that remains is the memory of a deep glowing orange.

I have been meaning to write about you really. But, as of now, all that I want to say remains lost in a deep orange haze.


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