I touch my nipple and feel lonely. The sun is autumnally low in the sky and it’s been four days since I last called you. My stamina is excellent, I think to myself as the tiny hairs on my arm stand up. In this kind of light everything is visible, even the softest blond fuzz, and it’s been four days since I last called you. Is silence an act of violence too? I wonder and I push the thought away, turn away from it as I trace a circle around the tip. There always comes a point when desire feels like homesickness – I want to stop just before I get there.
After the first night I was the one who decided not to stay over. The option was open, you hadn’t zipped up your fly yet, I don’t remember if there was a button or not, and you said it was raining out. That soft pattering, which for a moment made it seem like we hadn’t fallen silent. Like anticipation wasn’t crackling in the room between us. I pulled my sweater over my head like ‘I don’t care’ and said I’d better head home or I won’t let you get any sleep and don’t you have an early morning? When I’d put on one shoe you pushed me up against the door again and lifted me up. I wrapped my legs around your waist like I’d never done anything else. Your hand slipped inside me like you’d never done anything else. Then you put those same fingers into my mouth. We’ve been doing this for a thousand-and-some years, you said. You lowered me so I could put my other shoe on.
I filled the first day with someone else. Drank coffee with that someone. Laughed at their jokes. I brushed aside someone else’s hair. I tasted other dry lips. Don’t be so greedy, I wanted to say, but greedy is a nasty word and I find myself biting it down again and again. Afterwards I took a cold shower, not to punish myself but because most things are best stored cold. My skin tingled red and alive as I towelled myself dry.
On the second day I watched documentaries about black holes in bed. The curtains stayed shut. The light spilled red into the room until night fell. I ordered food which I ate in bed. A scientist said we don’t know whether information that ends up in a black hole vanishes forever when the black hole evaporates. I want to say I slept well after that. I want to say I didn’t think about you.
The thing about hunger is there are times when you forget about it. You never lose sight of it altogether, but there are days when hunger comes over you, bunches up your stomach into a sore pith, all your limbs pulled toward it, and there are days when you just feel a kind of lightness. Hunger hangs over you like a haze. You’re sitting in a meeting, but you’re just to the left of the meeting. You’re standing on an escalator, but you’re floating above yourself. Wouldn’t it be easier if hunger was unequivocal? If every feeling was identical to some prior feeling, if nothing ever surprised me.
On day three I sent you signals. I thought loudly about you in the supermarket, standing in front of the tomatoes. I put all my energy into it. It’s impossible that I didn’t set anything in motion. I thought about you standing on the pedals of my bicycle. Snapping a lock shut. I poured the tea slowly into the glass and it reminded me of the way you move, and I thought of you. At the end of the afternoon I ran my fingers over the fabric of my sweater – there had to be a fibre somewhere that smelled of you. That day I didn’t file my tax return. I had an appointment to which I arrived late. Said it wouldn’t happen again. Just a one-off, I said. That it had just been a one-off.
Now it’s day four and I have woken up in a bed that isn’t my bed. The layout of the house is strange. The hallway feels unnaturally long and the shower is in the kitchen. The spigot is still coated in condensation, a window is cracked open. Even the kitchen cabinets are beaded with moisture. I leave without saying goodbye. My phone doesn’t turn on until I plug it in back home and I see I have no missed calls. This too is something I’ve been repeating for a thousand-and-some years. I put my hand on my breast and feel like I’m leaving someone behind. Outside a sparrow is furiously pecking away at the netting of the fat ball. Maybe it’s a sign.