Driving home with The National

I’m tired, I’m freezing, I’m dumb
When it gets so late I forget everyone.

I drove home, late at night.  When I get into the shower, I will have red welts like fabric burns over my shoulders and wrists, although they don’t hurt and this is the first time I’ve noticed them.  My feet hurt and my lips are red and slightly chapped, as though from licking my lips in a cold breeze or a frenzy of kissing – neither of which are valid explanations.  

The road is unlit and twists.  I follow the snake of the cats eyes, and I see mirages and illusions.  My car lights reflect from an unseen bus stop and it looks like a car driving straight at me.  A couple of roadside markers reflect bright red and make me think a car is stationary in the road.  Tonight I followed a blue light, hovering in mid air.  A police car all lit up and driving a mile ahead of me, where the road is much higher.  But I can’t see that in the dark.  I can’t see the difference between the night and the landscape.  So I follow this blue light, like something biblical, all the way home.  

I get an atavistic thrill driving late, as the road winds left to right and up and down.  It’s something very basic and infantile.  The car dances about sometimes over the peaks, and it rams me into my seat in the troughs.  I never feel unsafe though.  There is always room and time to correct.  Everything is going to be fine is my mantra.  It will all work out the way it is supposed to. 

My mind at work is constantly on the job at hand – I’m too new and too raw to daydream.  When I get in the car my mind explodes and most of it drifts out of the window.  It is left to me now to sit here and pick at the scraps.  But most of all, when making my way home, I like the beauty of seeing the glimpses of lights that come and go, diving in and out of valleys, as though I’m on a ship in the middle of a storm looking for the home port, bobbing up and down on the huge waves.   

 

I am secretly in love with,
Everyone that I grew up with

I intend to do a lot of walking this weekend.  Out at 8, home by late.  I’d rather be dancing though, like in the fifties and sixties.  Or swimming, like in the seventies.  Or being tugged off in front of a log fire like in the noughties.  Then it is just a short hop up the hill to talk, light fires, pick out shooting stars and sleep on graves.  I’ll superglue my fingers together, or light a cigarette whilst sitting on a petrol lawnmower.  It’s all fine.  Everything is going to be fine. 

 

There’s no room to write it all
You should know me better than that

I wonder how many of the guests will try and picture the person who came into their room whilst they were out and made their bed more comfortable, replaced their wet towels, prepared water for them and put on some quiet classical music.  It is harder for them I suppose, since I can’t even leave fingerprints – I have to wipe them off.  For my part, I usually walk into a room and it is black and white.  It is only when my eye lingers on certain details that colour starts to seep out.  The dog-eared book with the tatty bookmark.  The portable breathing apparatus.  The half finished biscuit and the undrunk tea.  

I went into the bathroom.  Cupping some toilet paper in my hands, I got onto my haunches to remove the used condom from the bin and prepared to leave.  As I glanced up I saw, caught perfectly in the right angle of the light against the mirror, a mark like someone had breathed against the glass.  I stood up and looked at it for a moment, and then started to examine the mirror more closely.  In between the breathy token, I found two hand prints pressed against the glass, invisible when looked at dead on.  Small, not smudged, less than a foot apart.  Your mind puts everything else together.  Why the bathmat was next to the toilet.  Why all the toiletries had been scattered to the corners of the shelf.  Why the toothbrush holder was lying on its side whilst the toothbrush lay sadly in the sink.   

It seemed a shame to remove them when only me and two other people knew about their existence, but I have a job to do. 

I left the room and looked over the balcony to the guests eating in the restaurant below.  I didn’t try and pick out candidates – that is low class.  Instead, it was off to the next room.  Five more to go, and my feet hurt.  Everything will be fine.  Laughter brayed to the ceiling as the wine continued to flow.        

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