Sometimes I have conversations with you in my head. I’m not always sure what these conversations are for or what they’re about. Often I’m telling you pretty mundane stuff, like this afternoon when I was telling you about the new fridge. Do you remember our fridge? How when we moved into this house we brought our much nicer fridge but it didn’t fit into the special fridge hole in the new kitchen and in the sweat of that cranky moving-in day we agreed to swap it for theirs? Of course theirs was crap. It finally broke down last week, so I went on the hunt for a new one. You know how I like hunting for things. When the new fridge arrived this morning, after serious trouble getting it in through the front door, there was only me who remembered the story of the old one. I wanted to tell you that the new one is beautiful, with a lit up interior from outer space and a proper crisper. I wanted to tell you how the delivery guy, who looked just like a Womble, said we must have had some trouble getting stuff into the house in the past. I said you have no idea.
The really strange thing about these small moments where things are moved and changed, is the feeling of having all these stories all to myself. Of course Max has some of them, but she’s got the kid perspective. I’m talking more about the grown up stories, the stories that are about what was hard, what went wrong and the ones about how like the fridge, we got through anyway. Those stories have taken on a strange kind of unreality, now that you no longer talk to me.
The conversations I do have with you, almost always by email as you like them, are about even more mundane things than fridges and moving in days and delivery guys. They’re about conveyancers for the house or should we go with a lawyer? They’re about I’m going away on holiday and can you take the dog? There are not so many about money any more and that seems like a good thing.
It’s been years since you last spoke to me. I mean there have been little interactions on front porches, the occasional school event or mediation room, but not anything you’d call a conversation. Occasionally I’ve had to explain it to people. You know, the ones who say give him my regards, or how’s he going? Or worse, how are things between the two of you now? What things, I want to say.
It used to be the worst thing you could do to someone. I remember the time we all did it to Alice at a Friday sports carnival. We didn’t talk to her all day that day, in grade three. Not even to make fun of her when she couldn’t catch the ball. We just pretended she didn’t exist. I can’t remember why or how it started. What we thought she’d done to deserve it.
I don’t think she ever trusted us again after that. I found out one day a long time ago, when the school contacted me for a reunion, that Alice had become a track and field star. And when I was in a period in my life when I was making amends for past wrongs, I sent a letter to her apologizing for freezing her out that day. She wrote back to me. That was only one of many things you all did, she said. There were more.
The fridge delivery guy brought two trolleys with him, and one ended up in the garden, leaning hopefully against the winter lilies. At some point it fell over, and a small burst of pink near one of the worn rubber handles caught my attention. It was a tiny rose the colour of musk sticks and fairy floss and just blown, on the climber that never flowered after that one winter when we cut it right back. Do you remember how every year I tried to revive it with some new concoction or pruning strategy? I think now that the lilies are just too dense and too close.
That tiny flower made me think of the first time you played me Elvis Costello’s version of A Good Year for the Roses. George Jones’s rendition is more hopeless; you can hear how cut up he is about it all. But Elvis has an edge, doesn’t he? A kind of bitterness like there’s nothing to say because he’s just too hurt to speak, and why shouldn’t he be. I remember you weren’t a fan of Elvis’ forays into country music, or Jerry Lee Lewis’ for that matter. You were something of a purist when it came to country. You found the touch of irony hard to bear. But you thought Elvis almost got this song right. I cried the day you played it for me. I think that might be the saddest break up song ever, I said.
After rescuing his trolley, hiding the last rose behind the lilies again, the Womble delivery guy took the old fridge away. Squeezed it out the impossible front door, hoisted it onto his truck. What’s wrong with it, he asked. The seals are fucked, I said, maybe you could replace them. But it’s never really worked well.
© Zoë Krupka.