“Never again is what you swore the time before”


“What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end” –The Things They CarriedTim O’Brien

She waited for him to come to his senses, emerge from the sleep they had been enmeshed in for months, possibly even years. But no, the deep voice of stability and the grip of a steady hand continued to greet her each day. Perhaps because they had each already gone grey before finding each other and understood the calculus of what each had given up versus what each had gained by being together, the radical madness of young, unbridled romance was missing. But no, the electric tingling and orgasmic singeing of the fingertips, fire spreading rapidly to the internal organs, betrayed not just a lust one associates with youth but also an abiding and unretractable love, warmth and a mutual, complicit almost-ownership the likes of which neither had felt before.

Still, the emotional safety brought about by his reassuring adultness never quite allowed for the erasure of this nagging voice, whispering repeatedly before crying out, “Any minute now, he will come to his senses,” even as he spent long afternoons tending their garden, year after year, putting seeds into the ground that would not come to fruition for many more years. He was firmly rooted, encircled by and entwined in a whole world of nourishment. Watching him working, she wondered whether she had ever seen something so basic and beautiful.

But her nagging inner voice was accompanied by nagging ears, ears opened to listening to the sounds echoing from the past. Phantoms sometimes returned to haunt after many years, singing songs of regret, lament, actions not taken and whole imagined lifetimes not lived: “But sometimes it would strike me suddenly, watching you walk across the room: ‘fucking hell she is beautiful’. Those lips, those eyes, the high cheekbones. It was arresting and would take my breath away. But I couldn’t act. I couldn’t show you those parts of myself.” Hollow words spoken as a long overdue attempt to display some sensitivity that never existed. Empty attempts to make what had happened seem more substantial, as though he could have taken all that time back and redone it, even though in reality, he never would have wanted to in reality. Idealizing vague memories decoupled from what actually was.

Are these old admissions from a derelict entanglement even worth listening to? No, never again – again. No, the garden grows and grows with nowhere for weeds to hide.

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