Not all windows make her feel this way. She wants to push out, become like Alice and go through the glass. It’s the height – ten floors up- it’s the weather- that sort of greyness that only Melbourne can do stretched tight with no room for breath – it’s the time- quarter past twelve. It’s the date. September 17th.
It’s because of him.
She runs her hands over the glass, feeling the smoothness beneath her nails, feeling the cold creep into her skin. She looks down. She wants to jump. Now. Jump through the glass, take it shattering with her flight, past the window sill, the grey blocks stained with pigeon shit – past the gargoyle that sits bloated, face puckered up as if ready to give head- and go down. Fall down down till she lands, till she becomes grounded, till she becomes one with the pavement. And as she fades, her body limp, pathetic – useless, just lying there. People, hands to mouths stopping the words, the screams, faces turned away, most looking, wanting to see it all, to see more.
Not all windows make her feel this way.
He didn’t want commitment. He got what he wanted. Sometimes she felt this hardness deep inside and she’d push her hands into her belly as though that would stop it, calm it, shape it into something that resembled love. She never said she was angry. Only waited for him to come home, return to her bed. Sometimes he was gone days, sometimes a week. Once he was gone for seven weeks, three days- close enough to two months.
She wondered how long before she could claim he was missing. Pictured his body trapped in a car wreck, a tangle of flesh and steel. She rang hospitals, over and over again. Pictured her self at the funeral. She’d wear blue, the coldest of colours, the emptiest of colours. There would be flowers even though he hated them. Brash, hot yellow flowers, over bearing yellow flowers. She could never get at all of the hardness, that sat deep inside her, out. Even when he finally came back.
She met him at a time when she had no need for him. She was content with friends, family, a job – of sorts. She ate whatever she wanted for breakfast, toast was considered a meal, slept in a tousled nest of sheets. She avoided the word happy because of the knowledge of bad karma. Pictured it waiting for her to say out loud the H word.
She met him at a party. A friend of a friend of a friend’s. And there he was, grinning down her top and asking her to dance. She didn’t want to dance but he wouldn’t leave her. Later he would say that he couldn’t leave her, that something about her pulled him as though he wore a noose around his balls. They danced and as the music thumped through the ground and up into her softness, in all those hard to get at places, he was there too.
He made her smile, made her laugh, made her love. She hated to be apart from him so he moved in. Brought his stereo, his bean bag, plasma screen and milkshake maker. He bought flowers for her every Friday night. Made lasagna- his specialty, washed the dishes, gave great back rubs, made love to her as though she were the most beautiful woman. He kept her anchored – his love a noose around her heart.
She bought him his own coffee cup. Made sure she had his cereal, his beer, his ice cream – hokey pokey. She bought new sheets for the bed, transforming it from hers to theirs. At times he was careless with his words, his anger, his indifference. He wasn’t her first but he was her first love She believed in his promises, believed in him
It didn’t hurt until she found the bitch in her bed. Their bed. She’d looked at the pale flesh, his big hands all over that pale squirming body, then she’d screamed, you bastard, you bastard, you bastard. It became her mantra. It helped to keep the hurt inside. It never stopped the pain.
The girl – the bitch, jumped up, grabbed at her clothes and kept saying- it wasn’t my fault, not my fault, and quickly pulled on a shirt. She wanted to slap her to make her shut up, wanted to slap her to make her put on some pants, cover that flesh that he’d been deep inside. But more, she wanted to slap him, slap that smile off his face. The way he shrugged and said- baby, you know how it is. Slap and slap until his face bled to nothing.
Her friends told her she was better off without him, told her she could do better, so much better. They told her everything she knew, everything she didn’t want to face, couldn’t face. But I love him, she’d say and they’d tell her she was stupid. They’d plan nights out, movies and clubs, anything to take her out, keep her mind occupied.
Her mother said- men, then shrugged, can’t live with them, can’t kill them. Told her to go on with her life, live it, don’t curl up on the couch and cry your nights away. Men aren’t ever worth that. I love him, she told her mother, and her mother nodded. Yeah I know, she said.
She walks back and forth along the rooftop. Sometimes she shuts her eyes tight- shuts them so tight that the neon lights below are smeared into the darkness. She creeps along with her eyes shut, arms outstretched as if in prayer. She doesn’t pray. Has no idea who or what to pray to. Besides, she has no more words. No more tears. Only the hardness that has built up inside her belly.
She walks to the edge, her toes gripping the greyness. With her arms out, she can feel the wind as if ruffles through her hair, through her shirt, folding it around her, caressing. This time he hasn’t come back. She opens her eyes. Cars and people move below, lights flicker and flash. She would have liked to have gone through a window.
She steps off, steps out. Without the shattering of glass to keep her company.