Wednesday, 8 May 2019

More poetry after a two-month break

A few more poems after a long break... see post before the last and the first post for the whole series.



9 May
I love you but I can never tell you
Not in words
My eyes do when yours meet mine
I am moth-like
Attracted to your flame
Burning bright
I try to come closer
But I can’t
I know you feel something
Please don’t burn my wings



16 June
I am cycling in Cambridge
On a grey summer morning
Thinking of my roi soleil
I am but a small planet in your system
Circling around for crumbs of attention
Imagining your hands over me
Hands I have touched twice in formal greetings
And a few times by accident, not intent
Your smile is like the sun coming out of a cloud
I bask in its warmth while I follow your hands
underlining your words
Your eyes alive with curiosity
Your words so powerful 
My eyes still trying to show you what I feel
Beyond interest and admiration
Beyond sexual attraction
Our mundane conversations
Small dents in your day
My heart constricting like a wrung dishcloth
When you are not around and I need you
Just to see you
I love you but I can never tell you

15 July
I thought it was over
But when I see someone like you in the street
I hear your voice in a corridor
We speak about everyday stuff
You look at me from head to toe
Before we lock our eyes
I can lose myself in your kind eyes
But the barrier still stands
I try to find reasons
To crush my feelings for you
To at least sanitise them
To be your friend
I find them
But I still want you
I love you but I can never tell you

31 July
You called me a free spirit once
But I'm grounded with a heavy heart
I'm like a bird
Wings clipped, craving freedom
Begging for crumbs of your Attention
I love you, but I can never tell you


3 August
Not a fairytale ending
You are no Prince Charming
I'm no Cinderella
This is not a Happy Ending
You can be a Crusader
If you really cared
This citadel will not fall easily
Actions speak louder than words
I love you, but I can never tell you

Thursday, 28 March 2019

College lives: S. College


S. College
Colleagues think I have it all: the beautiful, successful wife who supports me and is not resentful I travel so much and have so many engagements, the loving family in Italy, always coming over, inviting us over, welcoming us with open arms, the villa in Tuscany where I spend my summer holidays working away, two brilliant and loving sons and a massive grant for my new project, which I had failed to seek funding for before I landed a fat cheque from a rich family. Well, let me tell you how I got that money and how much it cost me.
First of all it cost me two brilliant young people who were making my punishing schedule bearable. I am now sinking under mountains of work with two substandard substitutes muddling along. It’s self-inflicted as I cannot say no to invitations to talk at conferences, involvement in a multitude of projects, international collaborations, etc. Solange called me a slave driver but she made things happen for me, made my life so easy and pleasant, she rubbed worry wrinkles off my brow with her enthusiasm, her professional dedication, her glowing spirit. Solange was the sun in my constellation. Then there was Elizabeth, my moon. She soothed me with her blue eyes, she was always ready to assist me. I sleep badly so I tend to wake up at 4am and fire emails. Then I go to sleep and get up at 7am and fire some more emails. I was shocked yet pleased she replied to me quickly, no matter what time it was. She was not watching the clock as her inferior replacement does now, Elizabeth was at my beck and call. I should have been more wary of that, but it suited me. Selfish prick that I am.
The present is not so pleasant. I will have to terminate these two students’ contract before six months are up. It must be done but I hate doing it. I want to empower all the students I come across and help them do well. What an old fool I am. I thought I was doing well with Solange and Elizabeth… and look what happened. Mind you one is doing well, but it’s not doing it in my department. Elizabeth is in a mental hospital somewhere, she broke down and attacked me and Solange with a pair of scissors, of all things. Solange and I were in my room at W. College and I was comforting her. I have a strict rule never to touch students or employees, but I could not refuse human comfort that day. Well I was proved right and I’d rather chop my arms and hands off now.
At least it was kept from public knowledge and it’s my personal shame only. I did not understand what I had asked of Elizabeth and how it had unravelled her. This rich man’s lawyer contacted me and offered a donation to my research if I kept quiet. I talked to Solange and she agreed it was best to take the money and forget all about the sorry business. We then contacted the porter who had run to our assistance.
Alfred is a solid man, he has seen everything in his 20 years and at the time he took charge and made everything neat and tidy, causing no fuss, so really only a handful of people know what happened. Not even the Master knows and he should not as he was a top stern judge in his heydays. Not much harm done to us really aside being emotionally shaken… Elizabeth stabbed me and Solange’s not too hard really and collapsed like a broken doll. Well, more of a scratch than a stab wound, torn clothing and a bit of blood, nothing dramatic. I was wearing an old tweed jacket and it did protect me. Solange was attacked with less force, mercifully. 
Elizabeth looked like a mythical figure, a beautiful avenging fury like the ones painted by medieval masters. No longer a cool moon, but a ball of incandescent fire burning too bright and then imploding into a black hole of despair.

The last time I saw Solange we were having lunch at S. College. Everyone on the Sidgwick Site goes there, the food is good and it’s less expensive than the Buttery and the University Centre, where the food is often lukewarm. And they removed that microwave that was so handy… Never mind food, that’s my Italian side surging through this really awful business.
I like S. College, it has beautiful fellows’ gardens and a silent chapel where I like to sit, close my eyes and think. If I am lucky, the organist is practising and the music is just divine. It does not impair my thinking, it makes it surge higher. But back to my sun, my Solange, my lost solace. I have Grace now but she is no virtue to talk about, that sort of person who comes across well at interview stage but is a waste of time as an employee. Clever but lazy. Forgetful, always on her phone doing personal stuff. I need to remind her to do stuff instead of her reminding me to do stuff. That kind of useless person, a burden I cannot afford to carry, despite the recent bounty.
Anyways we were at S. and Solange wanted to tell me all about her life, keep in touch, and who knows, she might help me in future. I pray to God that she keeps her promise, I don’t want to lose someone like her forever. 
She got a PhD bursary at the Stem Cells Institute and she counts cancer cells with her amazing computer skills, it’s called a computational biologist or something like that. I am not a scientist in that sense of the word and my understanding is limited. I am a humanist, too human at times, less human at others. If only I had been more human with Elizabeth, I might have helped her through whatever was going on in her mind, she would still be my moon. Instead I have muddling Mark; he is very keen but still manages to be useless to me.
I sound like a monster now, people I hire are not my minions, but hang on, I pay them to do a job, I want them to do that job with some flair, if you cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Here we go again with food references. Food is my main pleasure. It always amuses me that people look at me and think I am some sort of Latin lover. 
Sex does not interest me, well if I have to be brutally frank I am impotent. Imagine if this story had reached the papers, I would have been branded as a lecherous lecturer, what an irony... Would I have lost my job? Possibly they would have asked me to resign and then I would have had to start somewhere else. I am ‘wanted’ in many universities, I am sure one would have picked me up from the gutter of the tabloid press, so to speak. 
Of course I have forgiven my moon, my fallen fiery angel. I visit her now and then. She does not know, I have asked to see her through the camera that monitors her and they granted me that but only at night, when she sleeps her drugged sleep.
She looks peaceful, her eyes are closed, her breath is steady, her pale face in the dark room, a moon child. She is still my moon, a silent moon for now. I have not given up on her, I am kept informed. 
I do love her, it’s not a carnal love, nothing to do with sex. Elizabeth was right, we had something, a connection through our brains, a telepathy, similar to what I have with my wife, but different, more refined, pure even, like a Renaissance angel in a Master’s painting.
She made a very human mistake and let her heart rule her head. Never do that. I don’t and I have been happy for years. I do not need a heart and Elizabeth has proved to me that I am right. I do not need a heart, nor a penis to be happy. 
I live in my brain and I indulge my body through my palate with gorgeous food; I use my arms to hug my lovely wife and gifted children but I never engage into feelings too much and too deeply. They know I love them in my own way. My clever children, the precious seed extracted by doctors and implanted into my wife's womb. I held her hand and I looked into her dark eyes and it was like we were making love there and then, just the touch of our fingers and the invisible thread that linked our eyes. I felt pure love, but I silenced my heart and thought happy thoughts. And it happened twice, enough to last me for my lifetime. My seed and her precious eggs live on in two amazing children. Two well-balanced creatures who will do well in life through my considerate care and her loving nature.
Come back to me quickly, Elizabeth, my moon, I need you for my work, I will give your job back and your place in my mind. I love you but not the way you wanted me to. I love you, don’t fool yourself you imagined things. It was real, there was this ‘us’ we could have nurtured, but you did not see it in the right light and I was so blind then. We can be together for as long as we have.
When you are better, I will come to see you in the day and hold your hand. I will look into your eyes and hope we can go back in time. We will put your ex boyfriend’s money to good use you and I. You will be my research wife and I will make you into a brilliant academic. I pray you will take my foolish hand and lock your mind into mine. We will conquer the world, you and I. We will find another sun - Solange has forgiven you and she will help us somehow, but we need a new source of light you and I. Don’t worry and rest, gather strength. Forgive me, I am an impatient old man.
Don't worry about your reputation. Very few people know what happened. We have kept things quiet, money has covered everything up, it’s like it never happened, think of it as a bad dream. Your family and the University believe you had a nervous breakdown for working and studying too hard. You have lost nothing and I am waiting for you. I will wait for you forever, as long as I have to. If you can take my sort of love and come back into my mind and trust in me, all will be well. Sleep now and recover your strength, I need you to come back to me whole, my moon.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

More poetry


12/3 12.30 and 1.30pm
I thought I was done
When I faced you last week
I believed I killed
The idea of loving you
I thought I was free
But it was an illusion
You are still embedded
In my genetic code
I love you but I can never tell you


I hate it
How you can make me cry
With a rushed email
You are angry
I so want to please you
Your annoyance pains me
I want to help
But you push me away
I am trapped because I care
I can’t cry in the lecture hall
So I am writing a poem you will never read
I love you but I can never tell you


March, forgot date and time
Time is of the essence
When you said goodbye
And looked into my eyes
My heart leapt
At the gift of time
All I want is your time
I miss you
If you think of me
Send me a line
I love you but I can never tell you


27 March 10.30pm and 28 March, 7pm
I tried to lose myself
In another man's eyes
But all I could think of
Were your eyes
Locked into mine
in casual conversation
Our eyes bridging our hearts
while mouths utter unimportant things

I made love to another man
And thought of you
Your hair curling at the nape
Your small, beautiful hands
tapping at your laptop
Stroking your face
Your hands that never touch me
I love you but I can never tell you

Friday, 22 February 2019

Back to poetry


11 February 2019 - after drinking Cremant - 7pm
No title
In the gallery the poet reads with emotion
Champagne's bubbles tickle my lips
My heart swells
While I imagine our first kiss
I cycle back through
Dark Cambridge streets
Tears running down my cheeks
My heart shrinks
I love you, but I can never tell you.


21 February 2019 - after a glass of sweet sherry - 7pm
No title
You are my Mentor and Muse
But you don’t know it
Or if you know it
You don’t show it
I am cycling in Cambridge
In the Dark
I love you, but I can never tell you
But wait... do I love you
Or the idea of you?

  
22 February - no alcohol - 8.45am
With Deepest Respect
Scratch that word 
Off the card I gave you
Replace with Love
Civil War has been declared
Rational mind
Foolish heart
No winner in this internal conflict
Consciousness eats popcorn
Internal critic is busy with ethics
I love you but I can never tell you

  
22 February - no alcohol - 6pm
The Idea of You
If our roles were reversed
You'd be Rapunzel
And I'd be your Prince
You'd let your unshorn hair down
And I would climb up the ivory tower
I love you but I can never tell you


3 March - no alcohol - 7pm
No title
You'd think
I am too old
To be lying in the dark
Listening to the Killers
Aching for you
Remembering standing in the street
Saying goodnight
Waiting for a sign
I love you but I can never tell you


4 March 8.30am
The gate is locked
You hold the key
Brain is sulking
Years of ruling over Heart
Heart flips at the mere thought of you
Consciousness is still eating popcorn
Unhelpful bastard
Brain is out in force policing
Move on Heart, there’s nothing to see
I love you but I can never tell you


4 March 4.30pm
Beware of what you wish for
I wished to feel again
After two winters of discontent
You breached my defences
Wish granted
I am happy
I am sad 
BUT not SAD
I am crying
I am a mess
I love you but I can never tell you


6 March 6.30am
The answer is not blowing in the wind
Our eyes met across the table
Locked by longing
I hold that moment in my heart
As I cycle this morning
Wrapped in an icy breeze
I think of you
You don't love me
Or if you did
You can't show it
I am crying but it's not the wind
I love you but I can never tell you

9 March 2019 5.20pm
Across the desk 
Our eyes meet
Your eyes question me
I look away
I love you but I can never tell you


Sunday, 16 December 2018

College lives: W. College


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


It is so unprofessional but I can’t help it. You can’t stop love in its track. No, it’s not lust, I have searched myself and it’s not that. I am up and down. I have always admired him from afar since when I attended one of his lectures on comparative politics. He is not handsome in the conventional sense, not like Thomas, my boyfriend.
Thomas is the golden boy, the prize my girlfriends would have wanted to win; they do keep telling me how lucky I am. I am not feeling that lucky now: I am miserable, excited, aching, hurting, uncomfortable, joyful, sad, happy, loving and yes lustful but wrapped with love. I’d be happy to just reach out, put my hand on his face, removes his glasses, stare in his dark eyes and not speak. Me who can’t stop talking, a chatterbox since I was a child, a prize-winning debater no-one could touch at university. A top arguer earmarked by my college tutor to be a high-ranking barrister one day.
Thomas has never made me feel this way. He is a good lover, he is my best friend, he is all people imagine him to be and yes I am very lucky he loves me, but since I have been working with Prof. Umberto Dellangelo to give him his full title, Thomas’s star is fading. When Umberto interviewed me I felt great admiration for him. He is loved by anyone who works for him, his mind is needle sharp, he is a great communicator in several languages; his English is flawless with a tiny bit of an Italian accent that is so sexy you would not believe.
At the stage I am right now, he just has to speak for my body to feel all sort of uncalled and unwanted sensations. He does not even have to say something clever to make my blood literally boil and bubble. I even have this aching feeling in my body and I have never been into sex in a big way. I want to be with Umberto but at the same time I pull away and try to do my job with dignity, displaying no feelings, ice-queen mode.
I know he knows or maybe I imagine he does, I do not know any more. I am totally and utterly lost. I do not recognise my rational and sharp self in this woman who is pining for an older married man. A woman who has been with her golden boyfriend for two years with plans to get married and have children. A woman embarking in a tough career path to become a barrister and a queen’s silk at some point. I am that ambitious and driven. People have encouraged me to be at Cambridge, they have injected me with confidence, excluding my parents of course, although they admire my career path because it’s a money-making gig. My family is full of philistines who are only interested in money. They are only interested in beautiful things if they make money. I prefer Thomas’s parents, cultured, well mannered, aloof in a good way, not poking their noses into their son’s life like my parents do, like pigs in a trough, they put their snouts in and make these disgusting noises, bleat stupid stuff, not that pigs bleat, sheep do, they are kind of a sheep/pig combination really.
Thomas is my second boyfriend, my second proper relationship. I was with Nigel first when I was in a secondary school in Rugby until our choices of universities separated us (me Cambridge, Nigel Edinburgh). It was a clean break and we see each other now and then when I go back to see my parents. We are still friends, university happened and we moved on. I had a few small affairs at university after that, but I never went all the way. Then I met Thomas, he blew me over with his golden perfection and he fell in love with me against all odds. He is handsome, rich, caring, charitable, an excellent student, a sportsman, a great friend, a marvellous son to his mum and dad. He got a PhD at Cambridge after getting a first in Oxford. How could I resist him, he is even romantic, everything a woman wants from a man. He accompanies me clothes shopping and meekly waits for me to faff around in the changing room. I hate clothes shopping so I am so grateful. He is perfection personified, never a harsh word to me even when I am annoying.
He might be Tory by birth but he reads the Guardian and squirms at injustice. He wants to do good. He was born entitled but he is not one of those smug bastards going around Cambridge flaunting their wealth and connections. He is trying to find a cure for cancer, for God’s sake; he works tirelessly in the lab with a Professor who won a Nobel Prize.
Me, I am flawed. I am not beautiful, not ugly, just average, have a terrible relationship with my parents, suffer from SAD so I am on medication during all the winter months (a low dose but still…), I am no good at sports, nothing much to write home about except my icy blue eyes behind a pair of huge specs and a sharp mind like a surgeon’s scalpel. This is what Thomas fell in love with, my mind and my ice-queen eyes. I am his oracle; he has told me I am, I have not made it up.
I think he cares for me. He loves my being, my essence, my personality. He accepts me as I am and compliments me when I make an effort to look posh to go to his family’s dos. They have a very smart flat in Chelsea and a house in the countryside, for house read mansion house. My parents were all agog when they were invited for a weekend during the Christmas holidays – money speaks to them in an enchanted tongue. Like the saying goes, money is music to their ears. They were going through a whole symphony in the countryside. My mum loves Downtown Abbey and it’s like her dream had come true.
But Thomas’s star is dimming and in danger of being swallowed by Umberto’s black hole. If I were religious, I’d say he is the devil, a benign one. But what he is doing to me has the potential to be evil, it can have terrible consequences for his family and for Thomas and me.

Umberto has two sons, 12 and 16. Umberto’s wife is Japanese and the mix of these two ethnicities and nationalities into the boys is breathtaking. I have met them when Umberto invited me to his house in Chesterton for dinner alongside his PhD students. They are both handsome with perfect manners.
Umberto has a tiny, immaculate house. It’s a minimalist house full of warmth, not a combination that comes to mind when you imagine a minimalist’s living space. I am the messy type in my living quarters; Thomas is methodical and precise in the lab but as messy as me at home. We had to hire a cleaning lady - we both hate cleaning and it was like a dump when we were left to our own devices. We live in a penthouse flat in central Cambridge overlooking Parker’s Piece, another thing my friends envy. They live in poky college accommodation or rent rooms from private landlords.
Umberto is my boss so it’s very unprofessional to feel this way. I have taken this short-term contract job to tidy me over before I start pupillage in chambers. I have done my vocational bit already. I am Umberto’s maternity cover secretary, she will be back in a few months and I will be off to London. Umberto is very intense and work-driven. He emails me at six in the morning and expects a reply by 7. He does not bully me into replying by 7, that is not how he operates. I know he is expecting a reply because if I don’t reply, he will send another email to remind me. I am like him, perfectionist, always giving 110%, which is mathematically impossible, but 100% is not good enough in our books. We are both Cambridge trained, Umberto has been here longer than me, but we know what must be done. Thomas does too. We are all in this very intense working environment where professional and personal blurs. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, you do not switch off when you get home, your brain does overtime without you even being aware, except for the flashes of brilliance when a solution to a difficult problem pops into your head as if by magic.
I shower and I think of a problem without even realising it, I dry myself and the solution pops up. I cycle to work and execute it. Job done. That is how it is, deal with it or walk away and ‘be normal’. At weekends I do fun stuff, I am human… but if Thomas has to pop to the lab to check something, I will pick up one of my law books and read, ponder, write notes, jot down ideas…
I do draw a line about doing work for Umberto at weekends. I force myself not to log into my work email. Mostly I want peace of mind. When I read his emails, feelings cloud my brain, sensations run through my body. I sit uncomfortably in my chair, my body aching, like that song, the one about feeling a fever. It’s like I am going insane, I do not welcome these feelings. I do not want to be shaken and stirred. The ice queen is not melting, not now, not ever. I have my career to think of, Thomas to think of, our future children to think of. So I just don’t log in. It costs me, though.
Umberto emails me a lot at weekends. I get the whole lot on Monday. I feel guilty, although he has made clear that he does not expect me to work at weekends, he likes to send emails when it’s calmer for him, weekdays are often too busy. However, I should not worry about these emails until Monday. He made it clear at the interview; he is a workaholic, his whole family is, in Japan workers take very few holidays. His wife is the same. The children are the same. The boys study hard and love what they do so it’s kind of easy for them. They love computers and can code since in primary school. They already get paid work from a Cambridge gaming company. Umberto is very proud of them. He does not mind they are not academic material, well, they will do computer science somewhere, maybe Southampton, where the inventor of the net is, but in the meantime they earn good money while at school. No car washing or childminding for them, real work. Umberto has set up a limited company for them and they sell their services through it. They are scarily determined boys. I mean at their age I was reading books and dreaming of escaping home. I earned my pocket money doing chores for my mum and the neighbours…
Anyway, I am not happy about all this. I have told no-one. My friends would not understand, my family would be appalled (more from the money angle really, Umberto is not rich). When I say friends I mean students I know from university and my college (I am at G. but I do not live in their accommodation’s block anymore, I prefer to be central with Thomas, who is also from G. That’s where we met originally, at a formal dinner, although he was an MA student looking for a PhD supervisor and I was still an undergraduate).
And yet I am happy. I want and ache to be with Umberto. I have to stop myself going into his office with ‘pretence’ questions to see him. It’s not rational stuff, that’s why I am struggling. A sharp brain is useless when your heart is sliced open by feelings. No, I am wrong, it’s not being sliced open, it’s more like water on a rock, slowly and insidiously moulding it, the rock does not want to change, it wants to say sharp and edgy. The water does not care, it slowly smoothes away the sharpness, the jagged bits. Like a pebble on the beach, smooth, round, beautiful and then you realise it was originally a sharp piece of glass - natural stones are not in that artificial green colour.
What does this say about my heart, a rock, I have had a heart of stone for years and it’s being smoothed against my will. My brain does not like watching this, it’s sickening. I sometimes feel nauseous thinking about my situation, I want to be safe with Thomas, in our safe love and safe relationship. I do not want to travel on this bumpy road, I do not want the water to come and smooth my rock.
I must resign, leave him, resign. It’s no good. But I am pulled towards him, it’s like magnetic water and I have lost my compass. You’d think my medication would do something to tone down these feelings. It does nothing. I should go to the GP and ask to up my medication. I want to feel nothing or very little or just enough to be human. I do not want this volcano burning inside. I have not asked for it or maybe I did, the body betrays you all the time, small betrayals, like farting in the yoga class, so embarrassing. But this is really bad stuff, what is happening to me is bad. What do I mean happening, nothing has happened. If I were on a trial I’d have to admit I have no evidence, no wrongdoing to show, nothing.
It’s all in my head. I am going mad because I am happy. Happiness is bad for me, that’s why I did not give John a chance. He made me so happy that I was scared of losing control. Yes, it’s about losing control, I do not want to lose control. That’s why I have always avoided deep relationships, alcohol and drugs. Drink and drugs were offered, they were there for me to have. I said no, people thought I was a prude or not much fun, but I did not care. I said no and I want to say no to all of this now, a big fat NO, but I can’t. I don’t know what to do. I have to keep pretending nothing is happening. That’s the way, good girl, that’s the way. Ignore feelings, sensations, don’t look at him too much, keep the eyes down and the mind will clear. Just stop looking at him and dreaming of his hands over your body, stop that! I need a full emotional detox. Yes, I can do it, I have years of training, I am not going to be smoothed by this weird magnetic water and I will not break. I can’t afford to break down now. I can’t, a lot is at stake and it’s not just about me.

Umberto looks like he is ten years older today. He is like shrunk unto itself, his fine eyes cloudy, his right fingers cannot stay still, tapping on a packet of cigarettes and here I am with a genuine request of information. The phone rings, he excuses himself, he has to take the call, but I can wait until it’s done. He does not say much, his face darkens, it’s bad news of some sort but he keeps it together, he is still strong - weary, stressed but still magnificent. I fantasise that his wife has left him. It must be really bad news, he has never looked so troubled.
“Are you sure this is what I need to do?” He clutches the packet of cigarettes and squeezes so hard the cigarettes pop out and scatter on the desk among the papers. He listens some more, he shakes his head, he looks so unhappy my heart tightens. I wish I could do something criminal to whoever is speaking to him and making him suffer this way. I am not a violent person but I could do anything for him. He does not even have to ask, I will do it.
“OK, listen, my secretary is here, I will sort this out, it must be done.”
He hangs up, puts his face into his hands for a few seconds, then looks up and says:
“This is not a good moment, Sarah, you need to go now, please. If you need something, ask Solange, I need to be at my college in an hour and I must prepare.”
I feel weak in the knees, diminished. This is not how I see myself. I am his trusted collaborator, I contribute ideas, I solve his problems, I can’t be dismissed like that. I want to leave the room but I am rooted on the spot. I want to cry but I can’t cry. I want to swear loudly but my tongue is glued inside my mouth. I feel angry, cold and nauseous at the same time. I am nothing for him, nothing. It has all been in my head. I am a Fucking nothing.
“Please, Sarah,” he says, his voice pleading but with a hard edge that slices into my heart, “I need to be alone now.”
I dig deep and find the energy to leave the room. I keep hold of the door as I exit, good manners still in place. I don’t slam it. I am super angry, but still love him. Stupid, stupid cow who I am. I entered his office with a legitimate request. I needed to have more information on the French project, I am writing the fucking grant application and I dislike Solange, that sycophant. She is always all over Umberto and they go away to conferences together. I even contributed to the latest paper, it was my data, a small bit of data, but it was mine and thinking about it, shouldn’t I have received a credit for it? Yeah I know, I have only been here for six months and I will be gone in three, but I have made a contribution to that project and I am still doing stuff for it.
I was going to be super good, push away the feelings I have for Umberto. But now I want to come down like a ton of bricks and get what is mine. I won’t be diminished. I will rise and strike. This thought pleases me. When I feel strongly about something I am like this crusading-warrior woman. Thomas calls them my Joan of Arc’s moments. Yes, I will fight this, I have to now.
I know Umberto is at his college this afternoon at 4pm. I will go there and declare my intentions. I am not taking this shit and keeping quiet. I will do whatever is required. I am getting my satisfaction because so far I couldn’t get no satisfaction, like that old song goes. I go back to my office, smirk at Solange’s busy back, her fingers flying wildly and untidily on her keyboard – Mademoiselle Parfaite can’t touch type - and go through my list to clear all at double speed. I will finish the workload early enough to go to his College and have my say.
When Solange leaves for the library – good riddance to French rubbish – I grab a pair of scissors and head to the toilet. I untie my pony tail and cut my hair into a short bob, like the Joan of Arc in that painting by Albert Lynch. I have the short fringe already, which is handy. I chuck the cut hair in the rubbish bin and go back to my office to get ready to leave. Nobody is around on my floor at 3pm in the afternoon, most people are either in the library or gone home to pick up their children from school. I put my hat on, no need for that busybody of a receptionist to notice my hair.
I say: “Bye Susan, see you tomorrow.” The American moron looks up and says nothing, just scowls at me. Rude bitch. She is wearing that awful purple dress and fake flowers in her blue hair. Who she thinks she is, Frida Kahlo? I do not understand why they employed her, she does not look right nor act professionally. There must be a gap in the market for reception staff, too many intelligent people, not enough minions.
I cycle down Sidgwick Avenue, dodge the tourists trying to photograph the mathematical bridge and enter the alleyway by the Anchor pub. I proceed into Mill Lane, focusing on the road as it’s full of tourists wanting to punt or have a walk by the river. I pass the cows on the meadows by the Engineering Department, cycle into Newnham and then back towards the gas station and up Sidgwick Avenue (what the hell am I doing?) and into Grange Road. I feel strong now. I can do it! I get to the bottom of Grange Road, mount the pavement and cycle towards W. College. I get there, park my bike, lock it and steal a glance at the giant topiary penguin. The College has really lovely gardens but they do not soothe me today. I am fierce like those lions in the Chinese-style building. Unlike them I am not holding a pearl. I am still angry and craving my satisfaction.
Umberto’s room is in a cute little cottage on the grounds, not in the main building. My card works there so I gain access through the main door. I control my stride and walk as quietly as I can. I approach the door and put my ear against it. Silence and then a muffled sound like someone is crying. Oh no, what is going on, he really needs me. My anger melts away, I am aching for him. Something is very wrong.
I open the door slowly and see Umberto sitting on the sofa by the bookcase, Solange in his arms. She is crying and his arms are around her. She is facing the bookcase and crying, he is facing the door and looks startled by my appearance but says nothing.
I put my hand in my bag to get my phone out, I am going to take a picture of this sickly tableau and email it to the Vice-Chancellor. I feel the coldness of the scissors. I grab them and run to the sofa and let go of all my love and frustration. I channel the red anger in my right hand, I strike, I see red, blood red. I drop the scissors, I flee. I manage to cycle home, I collapse on my bed. I am terrified. I have fucked up my life and achieved nothing. I hurt two people. I am a monster.
Thomas walks into the bedroom and rushes to me. I am in a state. I cry, cry, I am sick all over, I pee on the quilt, I am a human mess. I am breaking, piece by piece. Thomas is strong, he is my anchor, he does not let go. I have behaved badly. He really loves me. The ambulance takes me away, Thomas is holding my hand. I don’t deserve him.

I am in a hospital bed. I have lost sense of time. I am clean and in a gown. I feel calm and sleepy. There is a camera over the bed. I hear the door unlock and someone comes with a bottle of pills. She smoothes my hair off my face and I start crying, my beautiful long hair, short and ragged, my heart broken, my future in tatters, alone in a loony bin by the look of it. Nobody is here with me. Thomas has deserted me. He must know what I have done by now. I cry a river like the song goes. They sting these tears; they are bitter, salty but bitter. The nurse keeps stroking my hair and asks me to take the pills in a soft voice, the voice of an angel. I take the pills. I wish she were the angel of mercy. I want to die.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Hello, new series announcement + #nanowrimo!

Good morning, long time no see... I am planning a new series based on Cambridge Colleges, 31 stories, in the same vein of Circle Lives. I am not sure when I can publish them as one is in a competition, when it's over, I will publish it here. I can't share it now. I will develop the other 30 during #nanowrimo.

One of Cambridge's colleges... 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017