My day had lasted like a siege. Tickets sat stark on the kitchen table whilst sounds of a deep bath murmured down the stairs. Heavy clad madmen were setting up tents behind my eyes, rolling out the oil drum and ripping up my optical nerves for firewood. But we’d booked the tickets a month ago.
I should go upstairs, sit on the edge of the bath, look at her skin and smile and let her throw bubbles on my face. Kiss her, get the tastes of soap on me and breathe clean steam. But the dull cling of afternoon smoke down here, the garish font of those tickets; it couldn’t be done.
* * * * *
Driving through the dark the radio updates me every fifteen minutes about seventeen hostages at a school in Grdsafferbod. The gaps between are filled with news of premieres and pregnant pandas. As she lightly dreams about her pre-theatre platter of mussels and Veraci clams and shaves her legs in the eucalyptus steam, I sit, parked on the dark slope of a neighbouring hill… Another fifteen minutes gone, the reporter paraphrases the whole situation.
Guns: Hostages: Children . . . back to the studio.
* * * * *
She sits by the dark of the window, reflecting in double vision on the two layers of glass. I tell her I’m sorry. I say work, nothing I could do. She sits with a tall drink and says its okay, her perfume choked by cigarettes.
Upstairs I take off my tie and my shirt and my shoes. I remove my watch and empty the change from my pockets. The air is humid and sweet. Tumbling from the bathroom it settles and weaves into the soft fabrics and fibres of the carpets, the towels and the bed.
I lay myself down.
From nowhere and everywhere, seven Gods lay themselves around me. They dappled fresh dew on my temples and blew fruits and wine through my hurt. Faint whispers of knowledge fluttered across my peripheries and a clear vision of nothing wiped me clean; wiped me alive.
I found her downstairs.
‘I lied’, I said, ‘I could have made it.’
‘Its okay’, she told me, half hidden in the dark, ‘its done and that’s all.’
The silent television, like a cold flame, splashed the tones and shades of loved ones and onlookers across her face. I moved her gaze from the mute rolling news and told her she was the tongue of seven Gods, and she smiled up well. I said she was a panda with quintuplets, a pure clean fjord of woven home. I picked her up and danced her and sang of the world being my hostage and she my ransom, and the madmen were put to work on the bar.