certain start

It wasn’t how either of us expected to end the year, but there we were, two strangers, in a bathroom, one demonstrating to the other the most intimate of necessities. ‘Don’t lose the string, that’s really important.’ Later, we walked up the high street and met M who told us about his Christmas in a hospital bed. ‘Give it a few months and I won’t be able to see any more.’ Still, he laughed and wished me Merry Christmas and ‘a whole lot of luck to hubbie’. His face is as pink as the stain on the bed. That’s what I was thinking as I slipped through the tills at Sainsbury’s. Later still, out running on grass thick with frost and plates of ice, I remembered the photograph of the American soldier who’d had his eyes blown out in Iraq. His prosthetic eye is studded with the six diamonds of his ex-fiancée’s engagement ring. This filled me with certain joy. So did the demonstration in the bathroom. I even felt a sort of glow during the conversation with M. What is it with me? To gain so much pleasure from the awkward, the tragic, the miserable. Another year begins and I look forward to more twitchiness, to more moments of social unease, and to breaking more taboos.

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