Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A Story Always Contains 26 Letters.

                                                    Picture Credit: Here.

He sat turning the postcard around in his hand.

The matte surface of the picture felt cool against his thumb. Circling the surface distractedly, he hoped to trace a hidden message. Convinced that if he spent a minute longer weighing his decision he would amble into 'chick' territory, he scrawled


I'm ok. Hope you're happy too

The old pub on South Bank must've been witness to it's fair share of confused lovers. They who'd sit with a pen in their hand, confusion tempered with enough bitterness in their hearts and a freshly brewed ale keeping their emotions fueled. What else could explain the wear and tear of the wooden table?
The scratch marks down it's surface, told more tales of anguish than of weathering due to age. Leave a man with a postcard, a pen, a drink on a wooden table and gashes on the table's surface would inevitably appear. Sometimes it was less horrific to carve out a message permanently than have it's intended recipient read it on paper, a thousand miles away.

This was his routine now.
Every weekend he would send her a postcard perfumed with noble intentions, hoping to explain himself. To communicate that he wasn't the obvious villain, he honestly didn't blame her for thinking he was.
That his flirtations had never been anything more than an anthropological experiment, all to prove his hypothesis that he still had game. That there was more to his decisions than a transparent fear of commitment and a painfully burning desire to explore more.
You couldn't say those things to your lover.
Not without her taking them very personally. Flinging a vase at you. Becoming deathly quiet. And then bursting into tears. All with a swiftness of transition only a woman could manage. He'd tried. He even had his friend rehearse the speech with him, but when he saw her sitting there, weathering under unanswered questions and stifled dreams, he hadn't known where to begin.

Baby, I know you're not happy.

That's when the flinging happened, and a muffled voice which seemed to be choking on it's own words said

I see where you're going with this. Don't bother.

Once again he believed her words. And didn't.

His ticket for London had been bought for the next month. And that's when the project took form and shape. One postcard a week. To wish her well. To reassure her that he wanted her to be happy, and to laugh that laugh which had once been in tune with eeny-meeny-miny-mo.
The words that came out were always different. Laboured, simplistic and never enough. Perhaps a lot like how he'd been towards the end.

A walk around the river always found him lingering outside his favourite souvenir shop. Laden with fridge magnets, the tired rack was mostly groaning and ready to collapse under the obvious irony. Behind the counter there were rows and rows of post cards. From aerial shots of the Buckingham Palace, tired views of red phone-booths, Trafalgar Square, the eye-sore that was London Eye and Parks.
He always picked one of the parks to send her. It was his way of letting her know that he'd come back and perhaps they could go on a picnic somewhere. Things would be perfect in that unreal moment and give them something to hold onto, to aspire to and to compare against when things got real and well, boring.

His friends wondered why he bothered with this exercise.

We have history, mate.

It was pretty simple. People do more for shared history than for anything else. To preserve it. To not have to start over. If starting over had a taste, it would be sharp, metallic and far too acidic. Shared history sat like melted chocolate on your tongue, you could chew it out and get tangled in it, eventually though it disappeared leaving an aftertaste that only water could wash away.

His postcard messages were always succinct. Clipped, if you may. He couldn't bother with poetry, despite knowing how much she ached for it. She'd once traced this, letter by letter, onto his bare back while he lay sleeping
“-Before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.”

He wanted to try for her today, outside the Tate. He wanted to go for something meaningful- but all he got was.


The museums here are pretty cool. So, you doing alright?

That was his fourth and final draft and frankly it looked like that hot-dog cart would leave if he didn't get up quickly.

Stuffing the panoramic view of St. James Park in his back-pack, he made a run for it.

It tumbled into place. Falling clumsily on top of the postcard with the couple sunning themselves at Hyde Park, and five other such, including a now, slightly yellowing one of Greenwich Park. The edges of the postcard had curled against the leaves of the tree in the picture. His handwriting was smudged by errant drops from the Tabasco bottle which lay alongside Greenwich's best, and frankly only decent view.
There they lay. Forlorn. Waiting for absolution and postage stamps.

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