Mark offered to pick Martha up from the office.
‘I’ll be there at six,’ Mark confidently predicted.
But he put the wrong postcode into his satnav and turned up twenty minutes late.
‘You are a complete waste of both space and time,’ Martha ranted at him when he finally arrived.
Albert meets two old friends for a drink. After a couple of minutes, he clocks it.
‘Are you two….involved now?’ he asks.
They both smile.
Then Albert thinks about the word involved. Albert’s never been involved, not really.
Perhaps that’s sad. Sadder still, though, would be trying to involve yourself.
Please, for old time’s sake, take your right hand and study it most closely.
Now then, you see that deep line at, say, seven o’clock heading up to one o’clock? Well, my old friend, that’s what we term your lifeline.
And see that line coming in from the left, just before what we might term a quarter to? Ah come on now, don’t be all salty like that: you can see it; just look a little harder. That’s the one! The one curving up to join your lifeline, the one that runs alongside your lifeline for an inch or so before veering off to the right, heading off who knows where and then becoming a little faint?
Well yes, that would be me, yes. Indeed it would. Typically me you might say.
Now, would you just keep an eye on that line? Just let me know if it does anything weird. Would you do that for me?
Mark always lost the plot.
“I have to admit,” Martha said on their way out of the cinema, “I never guessed he was her brother.”
“He was?” Mark asked.
“Of course he was,” Martha explained. “Otherwise killing him at the end makes no sense.”
“He died?” Mark said, suddenly appalled.
After two years they ran into what he termed significant relationship difficulties. They applied geographical solutions to non-geographical problems.
They moved to London. They moved to Truro. They even tried Dublin. But wherever they went they were still them.
For example, he still had that ponytail. It followed him everywhere.
We met too locally.
Had we met on a distant planet we’d have so much still to recall.
The press of sunshine on your face – remember that? The hiss and shush of waves through shingle?
I’d sneak you a chocolate bar from the mother planet.
And you’d smile your smile.
How spread out they were at the start! How open and warm they were, yearning to tell each other where they were born and their hopes for the future, desperate to show each other off to all their friends. Come, see! Behold! Is this not a thing of dazzling greatness?
An now? Now they can’t even speak of what they did today or their plans for tomorrow. They have gnarled in on themselves to become something cold, small and impenetrable.
“We’re all in this alone,” he said one evening. “That’s the truth of the matter.”
And she just looked at him.