Lydia

Part One

The creeping of the sun is cluttered in imagery and metaphor, most monotonous. The movement is pandered to and objectified by literature more than it is ever noticed by the average you or I.

On the lawn an air clad woman is moving with precise intention. She is acutely aware of me watching her, my eyes helplessly grazing her bare shoulders and the curve of her thigh. No doubt she is aware of the dozens of eyes on her; mine superfluous. There are other visitors to the house. A small but tall house on a no-exit suburban street. She is, as I said, on the lawn; an effective stage to the street. And she is unabashedly stunning. Though aware of us she is intent on ignoring us, locking us in an unseen room, a waiting room; thus she is effectively alone.

I am among many; just where I stand there are two men, one with a hat and one without. Across the street there are a number of pinched blinds; eyes looking and expecting to be unseen; I watch them too – they are more the voyeur than I.

The woman on the lawn: white clothing caught in the moon lies at her feet, she holds an uncommon pose: perhaps yoga, perhaps tai-chi I am not sure which, though it is certainly not pilates. Her hair is dark with a gleam, long in (god forbid I use such a clichéd adverb) cascading Botticelli curls.

This woman is Lydia and I came here specifically to admire her. I was not, however, expecting such a spectacle upon my arrival. I am more the fool.

The following afternoon Lydia opens the waiting room door. The men stand, they are expectant. Lydia is expectant, an eyebrow raised, she says nothing.

The house is in Victorian likeness, a townhouse of three floors. We have been guests here since our late night arrival. Two guest rooms, both kit with twin beds, have been our abode. With my untamed hair and stern stare one room is mine alone.

Both men are writers; adamant, enamoured fans – hounds of the romantacised. She is visibly repulsed by their obsession. Though a fan of her own brilliance she is not an addict for it.

We were unexpected and unannounced. We have had no audience with her to explain ourselves. This is our moment. The two men are clutter-of-mind. I am as yet unnoticed, as I prefer it.

Once, she was a lover. Occasionally she was mine. Young: at once naïve and assured. Pert and impertinent, gripped in adolescent experiment.

I was once told girls could never be sure of their sexuality, their affairs with the same sex are just an infantile and childish game in preparation for penetration.

My lover was as assured of her sexuality as the sun flitting across the sky, a full thrust swing in both directions.

Once, she was a lover.

The two men, well, they are two men. They are not just one acting on initiative. No, they are one following the other. They are a mob of two, and they are disagreeable in the same sense as a herd of hungry animals, in the same sense as a dog whose eyes follow the sausage.

The air between us is tired. She has forgotten me and I am not ready to remind her. They take up her attention, her waning, disinterested attention. I am engrossed in a small painting by the mantle, so engrossed I am quite part of it and not enough to be disinterested by.

She is bored before the sun sets, the door is shut again, and we, me and these two men, are brought a symbolic dish of roast lamb.

Part Two

A living room, two love seats with a coffee table, a fireplace, a stool and a tall free standing lamp. The room is inordinate; the windows are hung with heavy brocade curtains, the wall with imposing picture frames. However there is no date to the room. There are bits of every era from the Victorian onwards. The contrast is hideous.

MAN 01 sits in a suit, cleanly shaved, reading a newspaper on one of the love seats. MAN 02 sits on the other, legs crossed, arms spread across the back of the seat. I is at the back, unseen for the moment.

MAN 02: Have you had enough?

MAN 01 not looking up from the paper: What do you mean?

MAN 02: Well, day three and she shows no sign of relenting.

MAN 01: relenting.

MAN 02: you know, giving in. She’s not said one word to me, nor to you. It’s as though we’re not even here.

MAN 01: here?

MAN 02: Well yes. Look what are you reading that’s so engrossing?

MAN 01: Oh nothing
He folds up the paper and puts it to the side

MAN 02: Why don’t we play a game?

MAN 01: A game?

MAN 02: You name a fellow..

MAN 01: a bloke

MAN 02: a gent

MAN 01: a guy

MAN 02: a chap

MAN 01: a dude

MAN 02: Look just a man, you name a man, and then we try to remember –

MAN 01: What he said about Lydia?

MAN 02: Yes that’s right

MAN 01: yes alright. Might pass the time. We’ll start with Jack.

MAN 02: Jack who?

MAN 01: Jack Sullivan.

MAN 02: Jack Sullivan? What made you think of him?

MAN 01: His picture’s on the mantle.

MAN 02 starts, he gets up and examines it.

MAN 02: Why, so it is.

MAN 01: Why, so it is. Listen to you talk

MAN 02: What?

MAN 01: Well come on then, try to remember.

MAN 02: He said she was most beautiful.

MAN 01: And she is.

MAN 02: Yes

MAN 01: What else? What did he want from her?

MAN 02: A shag I suppose.

I: She put up his picture for that?

The two men jump to their feet and look around.

MAN 02: Who said that?

I: I did.

MAN 01: Oh yes, you. I’d forgotten all about you.

I: Tends to happen.

MAN 02: Why are you here?

I: Not for the reason you are. But you’re both leaving anyway.

MAN 02: Why? How do you know?

I: Because you’ve forgotten why you came.

MAN 02: I have not.

I: no?

MAN 02: Well I never!

MAN 01 laughs : Well I never!

MAN 02: What?

MAN 01: Listen! What do you think you’re here for then with those spindly legs?

I sighs, looks again at the small painting on the mantle t is next to the picture of Jack Sullivan. I gets up and looks at Jack.

I: I remember Jack. He still around? Have you seen him?

MAN 02: Seen him? He’s everywhere!

I: Is he? I liked him.

MAN 01: How did you know Jack?

I: I met him here actually, in this very room.

MAN 02: In this room?

MAN 01: Do you know Bill?

I: Gray? I assume you mean Bill Gray, he was here with Jack. But if you mean Bill, as in Willy Watson, I’ve met him too.

MAN 02: Willy Watson! By God. Willy Watson. When did you last see him?

MAN 01: uh..

I: Well he’s in Mongolia now, went there as soon as he left here.

MAN 01: Why was he here?

I: Why are you here?

MAN 01: Me?

MAN 02: Well I’m here for Lydia.

I: Did she call for you? In fact, does she know you?

MAN 02: Know me!

MAN 01: She doesn’t know you.

MAN 02: She does.

MAN 01: When did you meet her? Last night? It hardly counts.

MAN 02: Well does she know you?

MAN 01: I, uh, I’m, I’m not sure.

MAN 02: Not sure? She either knows you or she doesn’t.

MAN 01: She doesn’t know you!

MAN 02: Enough of that, why did you bring me here?

MAN 01: I didn’t bring you here.

MAN 02: You must have. I don’t even know the woman.

MAN 01: No, neither do I.

MAN 02: Look here, what’s all this about then?

MAN 01: You cart me off to some unknown town under some pretense of a good time and here I am bored out –

MAN 02: What are you trying to say?

MAN 01: I’m saying you’ve been a bore.

MAN 02 grumbling as he gets his coat: How dare you. I’ve had enough of this. Waste of time… don’t know what I was thinking… go now… might catch the last train.

MAN 01: Yes I think I best be going too.

MAN 02: Don’t you follow me.

The two men leave, making half hearted excuses. I is left alone.

Part Three

She never knew the colour of their eyes. I never told her why they left, the two men, in such a hurry. But she didn’t need them. Not men. In fact she barely remembered they were there at all. It was the same with all of them. I knew. They’re all the same. They come in twos. They stay a night, eying me up and down; never sure why I know so much.

You might well ask how I do know so much. You might. It is a possibility you’re just like them. Arriving in twos. For support. I understand it. Not wanting to come on your own. Yes it’s understandable. But I came alone, that first time when I first heard of Lydia. I came alone.

This time of course, it’s a bit different. Things have changed a little. There was a gap when I didn’t come at all. I doubt she noticed. All that time has had an effect on things. I have grown taller and my breasts are larger, rounder and my hips jut out in strange directions; hitting the door frames and tables. I am so unaware of my own shape.

I doubt she has noticed.

In the morning, after the men left, she brings in coffee, thick syrupy coffee. The sitting room, in its rancid splendour of era clamour, is stark in the early morning light. She holds her coffee cup in one hand, balancing a saucer beneath it. Lydia is so wistful, her soft dark curls hanging long over her shoulders.

“Are you staying long?” She says.
“Maybe”
“How long?”
“Long enough.”
“For?”
“You.”
“Not too long then.”
“No.”

Never too long. Just long enough.

In the afternoon I find myself in her attic. The trap door staircase is retracted, a ladder folded in layers upon itself.

Inside this peaked room, this smell of wood shavings, this empty attic, I think of the brandy schnapps we stole from the sideboard, the sweet drink on the balcony, the discomfort of expectation.

The chip board – compressed recycled timber – is pressed against my check. I am lying on my stomach, and with one arm raised, elbow crooked, I am tracing the edges of the wood shavings beneath the varnish.

On my back, I examine the peak, the rafters. They are low and oppressing.

This timing is rank with unfixed occurrences. I cannot paint you a timeline, save the consistent trail you have walked so far. I can throw you back and forth; I can tell you what was, who we were, I can tell you who we are at this moment, how we are with each other, and I can push it all into future tense too. But it is only a choice of words. Should I try to structure all of these descriptions in a manner of an evolving developing friendship, that fits to the equal progression of age; well I can only fail.

Your forward facing, consistent speed perspective has me frozen in time; lying here in the attic, alone.

I suppose I can only describe this to you properly with a sense of contrast.

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