Driving Out of Eden
by Peter Lingard
What time is it? Two-thirty-five. Is that all? And there you are next to me, resplendent in the light of the digital clock. You’re beautiful. You could be a movie star. Even your blue/black wavy hair looks sexy. That smile in your eyes and the tip of your forefinger between your glistening lips. You’re a permanent invitation. How about that! I have a permanent invitation from a movie star.
I always sleep well after sex, Abs. No, not again, sorry. It’s quarter-to-seven and I’ve gotta get to work. Maybe a kiss before I go. Thanks for a great night. You’re still The Queen.
I can’t believe they let me go, Abs. The owner said he was going bankrupt because of cheap imports from China. Every one of us out of work, and no redundancies.
Not now, Abigail, I’m not in the mood. Bastard at Centrelink offered me a job as a chauffeur for some Chinese company! I told him I don’t speak the language but he said there’s no need. These Chinese speak English and the less the driver knows about what’s said in the back of the limo is apparently a bonus. I asked him, the job guy, if he was losing it. Told him if that was the only job available, I’d rather stay out of work. Then he brought the hammer down. Said if I didn’t take it, there’d be no income support, or some such shit. I told him to stick his support where the sun don’t shine. Not funny! Take that smarmy grin off your face, Abigail. There are times when it’s not so appealing.
Sorry ‘bout before. Sorry about everything, especially for throwing out all the photos of you. Almost all. I’m going to hang a copy of that movie-star photo on every wall in the house. That way you’ll always be around to cheer me up. Thank God I kept it. Three bedrooms, that’s twelve walls. Then there’s two bathrooms, the kitchen, living room, dining room and the laundry room. Six fours are twenty-four plus the twelve makes thirty-six. Oh, the hallway has two walls, sort of, that’s thirty-eight. Thirty-eight copies of you. You’ll be with me wherever I go in the house. Speaking of the hallway, do you know your keys are on the tree? And, come to think of it, your toothbrush is still in the beaker on the washbasin. I used it instead of mine the other morning.
Well, that’s the last one, Abs. So many of you in all these rooms lessens the movie-star effect. Having you around is getting expensive though. It cost me over three-hundred bucks for the frames and who knows how much for the special paper and ink. I replaced most of the cartridges at least twice. It’s money I don’t really have. Still, you’re everywhere now. Just don’t piss me off, there’s a girl.
Jeeze, your eyes are beautiful; grey, yellow and brown flecks streaking into your jet-black pupils. I used to think people’s eyes were one colour. You said my eyes were blue. Are blue.
Couldn’t you have told me what was going on? I’d’ve been there for you. Maybe you did say something but you know me, you’ve got to get me when I’m focussed.
You must’ve known I wasn’t right for you. Why’d you try so hard to convince me I could be good enough? A leopard never changes its spots. That’s why I wanted the split. I knew. I’m me, and you understood what that entailed. Surely you realised that being with you wouldn’t automatically make me a nice person.
What am I going to do, Abs? Things still go on in my head. I just don’t voice them much, that’s all. They’re getting worse these days.
It’s been a bloody month since the shut down and not a sniff of a job. I should get out more but that would mean spending money I can’t afford. Stop looking at me like that! Bloody finger at your lips like you’re criticizing me. Criticize yourself, you superior bitch!
Shut your eyes! Stop following me everywhere. You always were a drama queen. Well, exit stage right. The final curtain’s coming down. We’ve been here before, haven’t we.
The regular rubbish bin or the recycle one? Regular can never be wrong. I don’t want some sanitary engineer cutting their hands on all this glass. Why do I feel the need to smash them? Wait. The price tag on this frame says seven-ninety-five. That’s when we met. The seventh of September in oh-five. My birthday. Someone brought you to the pub for my party and, because you didn’t know it was my birthday and hadn’t brought a gift, you gave yourself to me. Thank God for alcohol! Who knew nice girls were so easy? I’ve loved you from that day.
I forgot you, didn’t I? You’re the last one standing; forgotten because you’re on my bedside table. Without you, I’ll have nothing. It’s a thought. Maybe I’ll put you in a drawer. That way, I can always resurrect you whenever I need you. I do need you sometimes. Why, Abs? How come you always make me feel so fucking guilty? No, I’m not ready to put the last of you away yet.
I still miss you, Abs. When’s it gonna stop? Get a grip. Who am I impressing with this shit-show of emotion? Here…you can sleep in the bottom drawer with that blanket I never use. I suppose I’d better wipe my tears off the glass. You’ll be comfortable between the blue folds. Sleep well, sweetheart. My sweetheart. The nicest, sweetest person I’ve ever known. And I banish you because you’re nice. What does that say about me?
Two months without work. Should I get your photograph out? If you’d persevered with our child it would have been born about now. Why did you only tell me you were pregnant in your suicide note? Did you think I would also have failed as a father?
◊ ◊ ◊
When a youngster, Peter Lingard told his mother many fantastic tales of intrepid adventures enjoyed by him and his friends. She always said, ‘Go tell it to the Marines’. When he asked why, she said, ‘They’ve been everywhere and done everything, so they’ll want to hear about what you’ve been up to’. Of course, Peter joined the Royal Marines as soon as he was old enough and now has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tales to tell. He has had 300+ stories and poems published, as well as having many pieces aired on Radio NAG, Queensland and 4RPH, Brisbane. Professional actors have performed some of his poetry and he has appeared as a guest on Southern FM’s program ‘Write Now’ to read and discuss his work. He recited and chatted about some of his poems on 3CR’s ‘Spoken Word’ and had a monthly spot on 3WBC (94.1FM) to read his tales. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org