The scent of Patrick’s aftershave mixes with the cool summer’s air, caressing the back of my throat as I breathe, in rhythm with the rise and fall of his chest. With each of our joint breaths, the coarse hairs of his beard scratch my forehead, but I am too content to care. The low, sun casts long shadows that creep towards us, some stopping just short of our feet, others falling over us like we are a joint canvas and they are the artists medium. I close my eyes and the birds are singing, a chorus of song that feels like it is being performed solely for our pleasure. Coming from the house I can hear the distant buzz of the television that we both forgot to switch off on our hurry outside.
This dinky, quirky house share on the outskirts of Camden Town is, as the saying goes, our little slice of heaven. Close enough to the busy cafes and bars, yet far enough away to be able to enjoy evenings like this, whereby we can pretend as if we are far out in the rural countryside. Every night we have the choice between dancing until the early hours of the morning surrounded by friends and strangers or staying in enjoying the company of each other and the serenity of the nature that surrounds us. Tonight we chose the latter. My shift at the library all but wore me out and Patricks stint at the carpenters meant that when came through the door at 6:30pm his rugged face was contorted into a worried scowl. To cheer him up, I made him a cup of coffee and the two of us got busy cooking a quick but hearty dinner of beans, eggs and chips.
And here we are, tummies full, knots of stress unwound and brows unfurrowed – our arms interlocked and the sun falling down over our faces. Never have I felt happier and more in love than in this present moment. When Patrick came into my life last year, everything I felt was amplified – joy was taken to dizzyingly new heights and fear took on a whole new meaning with the stakes being infinitely higher. The ups of which there are many, and the downs of which there have been very few have resulted in the best year of my life. With Patrick, my future is something I look forward to, not something I dread like before. Whatever tomorrow may bring, I welcome it knowing Patrick will be at my side and I at his.
Mrs Jones stands in the neighbouring garden, her presence known not because she is visible, but because the misty spray of the hosepipe penetrates my peripheral vision. It looks like fire as it reflects the orange sunlight.
Michelle’s head is on my shoulder, a delicate weight of soft skin and hair that tickles my jaw. She smells of soap and books and the sound of her gentle breaths have a calming effect on my own – breaths that were quick and full of stress at first and now slow and deep to match hers.
Below us sit the blankets that, only a few weeks ago, were necessary to stop one turning into an icicle. This evening however, they are redundant. The warmth of the sun acts as a blanket itself, alongside the close proximity resulting body-heat that Michelle and I are sharing.
It feels like it was only yesterday that we were huddled beneath said blankets, under the misty night sky with the wool a little itchy on our skin – same time, same place, her head unmoving from my shoulder. We laughed and kissed and cuddled and even though it was bloody freezing, it was one of the best nights of my life. But then summer came like an explosion of birdsong and long days, and against all logic, time ran past us at frightening speed. Things changed before I had a say in the matter and now, next week, I must leave. Leave her behind and never look back. I love her more than I have ever loved anyone else. I love her so much that it hurts – which is why I must go. I know she will never forgive me. But it’s something that I have to do. Not for me, but for her. She deserves more than I can give her and perhaps, one day, she will thank me.
I brought this picture because there is something about couples that just suck me in. I love Love – reading about it, looking at it, being a part of it. This picture to me screamed passion, contentment and happiness and I was drawn to it immediately.
In terms of research, I did my best to date the photo and with the help of my mum (thanks mum!) we decided it was from the 60’s. I did not want to get to bogged down with back story but I did do a little reading into careers for men and women of that time but that is about as far as I went. I decided that I wanted the passage to be very much centered on the feelings between the two people, and most importantly, how they make each other feel.
At first, I had only planned to write from the females perspective, but, as I progressed I realised an opportunity to create some conflict and tension – allbeit unbeknown to ‘Michelle’. I thought it would be interesting to create a narrative in which there was a misunderstanding, and to present the different perspectives and feelings of two people in a relationship. By presenting Michelle’s story first, followed by Patricks, I hope to introduce a little shock-factor. Most importantly, I want to leave the reader with questions, and leave them wanting more. I have called the passage ‘Synchronicity’ – playing on the synchronicity of the couples’ breaths and physical bodies, but their lack of synchronicity in thoughts and visions for the future.
One challenge I faced – being the sensitive soul that I am – was that I felt bad for Michelle as I was writing it. Guilty for putting her in this position, and very sad for her imminent tragedy. I think that this is something that I must work on throughout my writing journey – not everything works out for the best and being able to navigate tragedy and cruelty in ones writing is an essential skill to have as a writer.