by Emma Hardy
Fillipe and Shona met at a Bonfire Night display in 2005.
Shona has gone downstairs to put the kettle on.
Fillipe sits on the carpet in their bedroom with a plastic storage crate in front of him. Into this, his ‘holding on until he can reasonably ask again’ box, Fillipe puts the sky rocket of blue stars, the vintage car magazines it had broken his heart to pack away ready to take to the charity shop, and a packet of sunflower seeds.
Shona had said no, but she’d seemed impressed, as ever, by his dedication to the cause. He will try again, maybe in a few months, maybe in a year. He will try again, he knows it, and next time he might get a bigger rocket. Next time maybe he will plant the sunflower seeds two weeks or two months in advance as a thing of beauty to be looked at, rather than keeping them as something for them to plant together as a ‘to the future’ gesture after she accepts.
He feels in his heart at this point, that whenever he asks again the answer will still be no, and that no firework, not even one that erupts in the sky above them in a rainbow of priceless stars, can change that. She will say no and he will keep trying.
He understands how trying keeps him alive, how they are alive, how each of them is constantly striving for more. He knows that on the day she says yes, he will realise it is over. A “yes” means giving up; an agreement that there is nothing more to strive for. A “yes” means they can each move on and look for more without the other.
So he keeps asking, each time hoping for a firm “no” whilst secretly longing for a “yes”, and dreading ambivalence.
Emma Hardy grew up in Liverpool, lived in various northern towns and has settled in Glasgow with a loving and much loved Irishman.