Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Endless iterations of n-1 where n = 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . .

It is dark.

Apart from the glare of a computer monitor, close to the window of the house opposite.  It's always on. That screen. Winking through the double glass.

Since 2008 when I stood on the floor below in a different building. Plunging bottles into a steriliser. When I wondered what was keeping you up at night. Neighbour of mine? It's been four years and I still don't know. Perhaps you were reading Glow in the Woods like I was? I was taunted and teased by that idea. Back in 2008.

But I've given up wondering about my neighbour's nocturnal computing activities.

Instead I worry about the texture of my jumper.
His face against my jumper.

Is it too itchy? Irritating? A brand called 'Ever Soft' from the Gap. But is it soft enough? I wonder.
The music plays. The anxious, over-analytical xylophone version of Today by the Smashing Pumpkins.
It hovers over us. A cloud of attentiveness. Shifting limbs and wrapping covers.

"Mummy," he murmurs. "Mummy."

"Reuben," I reply. "Reuben."

The circle is unbroken. The needs fulfilled.

The thinly stretched scalp over skull. The scant hair. We look at one another. In the dark. The light of the computer monitor reflects in his eyes.



We are here. Signalling to one another. Morse code like syllables. Flashing eyes. In the dark. The dark that will fall between us eventually. Age or death or teenage embarrassment. Any number of nasty busybodies will stop us.

Or perhaps those intervening forces are more kindly than I imagine. People aren't supposed to sit about here, attempting to reach one another, indefinitely. Certainly not across generations.

Then his small hands fall open in supplication and his body curls round, tucked inside my dressing gown. He won't be able to fit inside for much longer, his feet already stick out and have to be coaxed inside, after the belt has been shifted downward.

Sleep. Sleep.

We do. Unintentionally on my part.

And the tension in my muscles eases, just for a moment.


I want. I want. I want.

I want n children.

But I have n-1.

And when you always have (n-1) perhaps you always want one more go round? Another chance? A better break? To go back in search of that inverse child of yours that doesn't exist anywhere except in your own imagination and should-know-better-by now daydreams.

I am still so hurt by pregnancy and childbirth. And this burnt child seeks the fire.
Burn me again. Burn me again. Burn me down to ashes.

And I ignite. In a flurry of bank notes and a house that is too small and babies too tiny to live.
A husband who doesn't like me.
An uncreative mind who couldn't think of anything else, a stuttering career and lack of ambition.

Because I am always drawn back to those things left unfinished, the unresolved, the things left hanging in the air.

The things that accompany my eldest daughter.


This isn't a pregnancy announcement. Far from it.
I'm 33. I probably will not have any more children.
Too much stacked against me.
And it's far too greedy.
To ask for more.


And that is the word that my eyes catch upon.
One more try.
One more try.

One more go around n-1.
But I know I'll still come to the same conclusion.

How to stop and rest? I'm not sure.