by Katie McCullough
On my way to work I count the cracks in the pavement to find some meaning. It gives me none. Every morning starts like this. Our eyes never meet in the morning fog of silence, he never returns my look. Obstacles we are in our shared kitchen and routes are planned with nods and light taps to the elbow, the shoulder. I plant kisses varying in degrees of pressure (as if force underlines the urgency). Cereal pummels his bowl and I eat my yoghurt and await our morning routine. Fragments of noise clutter our breakfast. The scrape of my work skirt on nylon tights, the bristles chorusing as he rubs his face for the third time. And here it comes, the vacant promise that starts each day. The fugitive echo that’s rattled around his mouth for the past six months.
“I’ll find something today, there’s bound to be something out there for me”.
It’s the only time his eyes lock with mine. Even. I nod the same nod and smile the same smile I do each morning. Odd. Because I mean it. Even. Maybe this time he’ll prove everyone wrong and be the best postman, cashier, librarian there’s ever been. People will ignore the track marks that puncture his frame. They’ll give him Employee Of The Month complete with minimal pay rise and certificate. Handshakes and frozen smiles. Friends will flock in their cars not worried that he’ll steal their radios and he’ll repay favours and clothes will fit him just right.
This morning was the same. For those few fleeting moments I believed the vowels and consonants that he threw at me. I pushed away my negative thoughts when I kissed him over-affectionately on his forehead but I couldn’t seem to banish the idea that they’d seep through, straight into his mind. I sat down to drain my cup of the last few drops. It’s been a while since I can confess to finishing the cup of coffee I make every morning. Glancing over he’d left his to go cold. Odd. I kissed him twice, cancel out the negative and as if my being there would charge their resonance I grabbed my bag and escape.
On my way home I count the cracks again and I decide if they’re even I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and kiss him. If they’re odd I’ll tell him to leave and kiss him. I walk back and forth until I make them even; he never asks why I’m late from work.
Katie McCullough is a playwright and screenwriter from Hertfordshire who’s always looking for a gin and tonic and will ramble at you given half the chance.