Now I realise she’s been living next door. I think it’s her. I take off my glasses and look again. Women all curl up like cats on the couch like that but I think I can make out her precise features. I wave with both hands and mouth “I’ll see you in a minute” but she doesn’t move her face. I look around for my socks so I can slip across there. I wonder if she knows it’s me and if she is trying to ignore me, and how long has she known?

I let myself in and introduce myself. One of her friends is neighbourly. I realise I don’t have my glasses on. I loiter near the door, waiting for her to acknowledge me.  She doesn’t. Surely if it was her she would at least acknowledge me. We loved each other.  I want to go closer to check but what if it’s not her? Then I remember she doesn’t speak my language, that without touch we have no way of communicating. I ask her friend if it’s her and her friend looks at me and I determine that it must be her. I turn to leave, but how can I possibly repay this snub by simply ignoring her? I go outside, press my face against the glass and stare in. She is immobile on the couch, refusing to notice.  I start to shout, then to suck at the glass. I suck and suck until the glass begins to crack, until the house is fractured as an ice cube.

But now I wonder, as a judicial underling attaches a hose to my chimney and the air is officially withdrawn from my house, as I find my glasses, and press my face to the glass and peer, and my breath gradually diminishes, if one of those fractured shapes beneath the shards was after all the girl who took me on the afternoon of her seventeenth birthday to her grandfather’s farm and allowed me to help her collect the eggs, and who touched my face when between her breasts I broke one.


First published in overland extra! 1999

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