She walked home feeling ill, her stomach twisted, the sun rising cold into her eyes. She walked home because she couldn’t afford the cab, because maybe he would redeem himself in the two minutes between the car and the front door of where he worked.
So tell me why, exactly, you’re not coming this evening.
Because I canceled on her twice already, I promised her some time. She’s going to make me a nice english dinner.
Well why don’t you bring her?
He bowed his head, It’s more complicated than that. She wants some alone time.
Her foot hit a stone, sending it skittering across the ice crusted puddles that spotted the alley. Her eyes, following it, found graffiti on the wall. Scrawled excerpts of The Hollow Men. “We are the hollow men, We are the stuffed men, Leaning together, Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!” Should have been Robert Frost, she thought, I could have found irony in that. Instead her thoughts were glued to her week, her last few days, her empty morning. She’d needed him and found nothing. I love you, he said, and it hurt.
“Our dried voices when, We whisper together, Are quiet and meaningless, As wind in dry grass, Or rats’ feet over broken glass, In our dry cellar ”
She looked up at the rusty barbed wire at the top of the fences and considered climbing them. She imagined, for a moment, the metal slicing into her hands, giving her something to concentrate on. She stopped with her hands sticking to the frozen metal, one foot in the fence. How was she going to handle tonight? There was a crowd expected, and she wasn’t going to have the shield she needed. He’s standing her up. Again.
Inside of her, something had screamed. Complicated?? Have a great fucking time then. How much of a bitch do I have to be before I’m accorded the same respect? I pray she gets your name wrong when you’re inside her. I pray she gives you the name of someone you hate. She’d just carried his child for a week. It had been seven days alone, tailing an impossibly painful weekend. She’d needed him, he hadn’t called. Out loud she said, Forget it. It doesn’t matter. Because obviously, it didn’t.
“Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion”
When finally she saw him, told him, there were guests over. Let’s go, he’d said, and she’d agreed. Let’s find somewhere to be alone. He said a coffeeshop. Instead he brought her to a nightclub to play pool with his buddies. It was dead. She sat alone, watching the smooth coloured balls roll across the table, attempting to understand what possible motivation could explain their presence. She used to work for that night, visiting it now was like visiting a good friends grave. Any minute now we’ll leave, she thought, and the minutes continued, the hours passing. It was hell.
“Those who have crossed, With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom, Remember us — if at all — not as lost, Violent souls, but only, As the hollow men, The stuffed men.”