It’s a windy autumnal evening and very dark. I stare through my bay window of my study where I’m starting this piece.
Tonight I sense all my regrets, all my tragedies, all my bullshit. The sights – the dregs, the remnants of light and day – haunt us like ghosts and memories. They linger amongst us, all those people of a different age, the deceased, women I loved or didn’t love.
If I focus, there’s a flicker of shades and shadows in my drive. It’s like something is lurking there under the night-sky – the lies, the truth and half-truths.
You loved this season, didn’t you? The leaves falling, the change of hue – winter nearing. The chill in the air. It’s funny how weather and seasons transport us in time as if they are an extension of our past lives, our relationships.
I imagine Samantha is reading this, somewhere in her bed a hundred miles away – oop north.
”You loved this time of the year, didn’t you?” I imagine her repeat. ‘Who is he talking to? Who is that voice?’
What is a voice but an aspect of our conscience, a calling from a bygone age. Maybe it’s real, a voice that belongs to someone but maybe it belongs to no one. It just appears from the sky, through the air because we wished it into existence.
‘I don’t know about this one,’ she thinks. ‘It’s like his revisiting his love life – lived or half-lived. I wish he would open up to me, so that I know what the fuck is going on in his head.’
But Sam, what if there’s nothing going on in my head, that my words are a lie, hiding the truth? What then? What would you do? What if I’m not thinking of anything or anyone. Not even you? What if I’m a lie. What would you do? What if I’m neither the author not the narrator? What if I’m just a character in this piece just like you?
I imagine Samantha is thinking, ‘I wish he wouldn’t put me in his fiction like a literary prop. Condscending bastard.’
In actual fact, I’m not sure who the narrator is or what relationship I have with him – as a man, as a writer. Am I the creator of this piece or was this piece already written for me, for us? And once others have read it, to whom does it belong – me, the subject or the reader? Does Samantha have any legitimate ownership of it? Does the publisher?
I know Samantha is housebound with a flu. Occasionally she rings me, texts me like she’s checking up on me… Where I am. What I’m doing. Is she checking up on me? Do I want this? Do I not want this?
‘I feel like death,’ she texts me. ‘What are you writing?’
‘I dunno. Something like an autobiographical piece. Perhaps. Maybe not… I bought a new desk lamp.’
‘Nice… What are you drinking? How many have you had?’
‘Jameson’s. My third one.’
‘Oh no! Not good, Rosh. That’s when you start getting all philosophical… I’m on my third too but as medicine! As you know, whiskey makes me frisky!’ She laughs convivially because she doesn’t want to deal with the truth. ‘Your honesty scares me.’
‘It scares me too but that’s why I write, to confront my demons.’
‘So come on, really, what’s this piece about?’
‘I honestly don’t know… I think it’s about the truth. About love. About what it isn’t. Maybe it’s about hurt, about pain. Or maybe, as pretentious as it might sound, it’s just about writing a story.’
‘What?’ she exclaims half-laughing. ‘You’re writing a story about writing a story!?’
‘Yes, you’re in it.’
‘Oh no – Rosh! What the fuck.’
‘I’ve done four short paragraphs so far – as the opening. Do you want to read?’
‘I dunno. I’m not sure if I want to.’
What was it that attracted her to me? Did she have any saying? Did I? Was it preordained? Are we all not just a component in a pattern of the universe? Do we have any choice? Does she even know what love is?
‘Honestly, I’m not sure if I want to… But go on. You read it to me.’
‘Ok. But this part will be the third act. This’ll be the climax of the piece.’
I imagine Samantha wants to know but deep down only bravehearts can deal with the truth. Some say that the search for the truth is the cause of fear. Some say it’s a release from the pain of living. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe the search for the truth is our duty as human beings. It comes naturally to us the way night falls, the way seasons change.
But you might find in your search is not always what you wanted. Sometimes the results might surprise you, shock you. Love – or the path to love – is covered with pitfalls, ditches, mud and shit. It’s rarely a clean road with flowers and the perfume of spring.
Samantha is silent somewhere in a bedroom in Liverpool digesting what all this means. Tonight I imagine her without her makeup, in her dressing gown, a running red nose – coughing, sneezing. Her eyes are covered with tears.
‘Rosh?’ she asks thoughtfully.
‘Do you love me?’
Relationships come with doubt there’s no doubt about that. But we are not commanders of our in destiny. Our lives are dictated by the past. All we can do is watch and go with the flow and trust the forces moving amongst us, guiding us to the light, to the dawn breaking.
‘I don’t know, Sam. What’s love? To me, it’s like the breeze blowing outside or the night falling. It comes and it will go. The moment will pass.’
‘Are you trying to avoid telling me the truth? Are you bullshitting me?’
‘I’m not sure what the truth is, Sam, so how can I be bullshitting you?’
The following morning, in bed and still with the cold, she will read the complete piece. She will think that I’m – or the narrator’s – wrong that this moment will NEVER pass. But then she will pause and think too who she is, what she wants – what love is and what it’s not. Then she might come round to believing that maybe the narrator isn’t quite right but he isn’t completely wrong. It’s like ‘his’ story which may be art – possibly – or just a piece of bullshit.