Flesh

Looking so long at these pictures of you

But I never hold on to your heart

 

Pictures Of You. By The Cure.

That was the song. That was our song. That was the song we danced to. Slow danced to. In that club. The indie club on Sauchiehall Street. God, when was that? 1990? No, no. It was 89, that’s right. Disintegration. That album came out in ’89. That dingy fucking nightclub. Jesus, what I’d give to see a photo of that night. The state of us. The state of all of us. Punks, rockers, mods, goths, freaks, geeks. Fuck. What a sight. What a time.

I’d noticed you almost as soon as I stepped into the place. You were there with Marie. As always. You and Marie. Marie and you. That was always the way. You looked good. You both did in fact. But you, you looked good. Better than good. Incredible, truth be told. Who was I with? Fuck, it’s not important is it? Probably some local scenesters at the time. Transient waifs and strays that used to congregate around that street, that scene, the gigs. Their names, their faces long ago lost to my memory. Forgettable. Unmemorable. As are most of the surrounding details from that night. But you. You were everything. As soon as I saw you, that was it. You infected me. Swirled into my pores, raced through my veins. Your hair hair-sprayed to within an inch of its life. Your dress, gothy, morbid, and yet slit perfectly, showing off that unbelievable body of yours. The bright red lipstick, shining like a beacon in the murk of that club.

The chat was easy. Of course it was. When people speak about relationships it’s always the first part that seems the hardest isn’t it. The initial stages. The introduction. The holding of interest. The not letting the conversation fizzle out. But it isn’t hard. Not when it’s right. Never when it’s right. When it’s right it’s easy. Every single word, every laugh, every look; they spill out effortlessly. It feels warm, familiar; right. And that was how it was. I wanted you and you me. We liked the same music. Had the same sense of humour. Fuck, even the same movies. I mean where else would I find a girl that thought Labyrinth was the greatest movie of all time!? Just as I did. Something just clicked. Something aligned. Fate, astrology, luck; whatever the fuck it was, it was just meant to happen.

And then Pictures Of You came on. It wasn’t even towards the end of the night, was it? It must have been well before midnight because we still had time to walk past the canal after leaving the club. But the DJ put it on all the same. A slower one. A change of pace. And just like that, so naturally, we merged together. And danced. Swayed. Embraced. Your hair, your perfume, your scent. I was drunk on it. I’d only just fucking met you and yet the words ‘I love you’ were already fighting a fierce battle with my sanity, trying to trickle from my lips. Your eyes were closed. You were content. Satisfied. On the same level, the same everything, as I was. That song. It’s not even a love song. It’s a great song, one of the best, but it’s not a love song. Maybe about as close as you’ll get for The Cure but still, it’s not. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign. Falling in love with each other whilst dancing to a song about heartbreak. That tells you something doesn’t it. Or maybe not. Does it fucking matter now? Of course not. And it hasn’t for a long, long time.

 

There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to feel you deep in my heart

 

It was good. Really fucking good. It had taken me, what, 28/29 years but I’d finally found you. Finally found the girl. The one that made me complete. Completed the circle. You were cool. Intelligent. Educated. Well-read. Very fucking well-read. We went to gigs, festivals, special film screenings, tried out pretentious-as-fuck new restaurants, tried out greasy-as-fuck cafes, went camping, visited museums, art galleries, went hiking, travelling, driving, walking, dancing; fucking everything. And no matter how exciting, boring or downright shite these things were or would be, they were always enjoyable, always worth doing, with you there. You. With me. Together. You genuinely made the world that much brighter to wake up to. You were worth waking up for. Life was good. The music was brilliant, the laughs were great and the sex was even better. I’d cracked it. I knew I had. Meeting you. Meeting someone like you. Someone like you who actually fucking wanted to be with someone like me. Sometimes it nagged at me. How the fuck could you – I mean look at you – how the fuck could you want to be with me. You must have had suitors at every turn and juncture. That’s what I thought anyway. But in the early stages, the early years, that didn’t matter. You were enough. To know you were with me was enough. It was. Truly. And yet. And fucking yet…

 

If only I’d thought of the right words

I wouldn’t be breaking apart

 

Why? It’s something you asked time and again that night. And believe me, I’ve asked it of myself. Again. And again. Over the years it has gnawed at me. Drilled into my mood. My soul. Why the fuck did I do it? I can tell you why I did it, I’ve always known that. But it’s not a reason. Not an excuse. Not an actual valid reason or excuse for single-handedly burning everything to the fucking ground. But why? Because it was easy, that’s why. Because she’d made it plain she was interested in me. Her. The other. And that was enough. We’d argued a couple of times, me and you, and I thought I could feel it. I could feel my star diminish in your eyes. I thought I could at least. I was no longer the man you so adored back at the start. That nagging feeling returned. Daily life had nudged its unwelcome way into our relationship and telling you about this new band or that new band, or this new film or that new film, had paled into the shadow of insignificance against the dreary shite of bill-paying and flat-cleaning. Music, film, food were all no longer the things that kept us glued together. They were no longer the things that defined our life. Life was our life. Reality. Where once we drifted aimlessly and happily along the clouds of blissful ignorance we were now fighting it out in the swampy marshlands of the humdrum and tedium. And one argument too many (I forget what about, again, does it even fucking matter?) pushed me to make an easily reciprocated move on her, the other, fuelled by drink, at a work night out one time and that was it. It meant nothing. It felt of nothing. She was nothing. To me, to us, to any part of my life. All words and clichés from a tired and haggard cheater’s playbook but they’re all true. She did nothing for me. She was just there. She just wasn’t you in that moment. She was just, well, you called it right…she was just flesh.

 

Remembering you fallen into my arms

Crying for the death of your heart

 

‘Flesh’ that’s what you said. ‘That’s all we fucking are. Flesh. It’s the feelings that so rarely come along with that that separates us from each other. That separates those that you care about in this life and those that you don’t. There are those you love and those you don’t. The ones you don’t are all just flesh. Flesh with varying features. To varying degrees. But still just flesh. Just flesh. No more, no less. And you threw this, all we have together, all we were together, you threw this all away for fucking flesh! Nothing, insignificant, easy available fucking flesh! That’s all she is. She’s nothing to you? Seriously? It meant nothing? Just flesh. We built a fucking life together! A fucking life! Years. Five years. More than that. And you’ve fucked it all away on some meaningless bit of fucking flesh. When things get tough you don’t just turn to the first different person to show you fucking attention, you don’t just jump on the first person to make you feel validated. No, when you’ve built a life together, you fucking well fight to preserve that. You don’t throw it all away on the first bit of banal available fucking bit of flesh that moves into your eye line. You don’t! If someone’s worth having, if something’s worth loving, then it’s worth fighting for!’

Every word. Give or take. I can still remember every single word you said to me that night. Every word correct. Every word needed to be said. You were gone. That night. Left. That was it. Everything we’d built together, gone. Just like that. Like you said. Flesh. You know, what are we, almost thirty years on, and I can’t even remember her name. Flesh. That’s all I can remember. She’s there, forever etched in my memory as ‘flesh’. Nothing more. That’s even with the month long relationship I had with her straight after you. I never wanted that. Of course I fucking didn’t. I felt absolutely nothing for her. I was doing it to prove something I think. To prove what I don’t know. To prove that she was worth throwing our life away for? To validate my mistake? To validate me? Who the fuck knows. I could barely stand the sight of her. Her company, her smile, her flesh. It was dead before it had even begun. It was you I wanted. It was you I needed. It was you I loved and always would. But you were gone. To where I didn’t know. It killed me. But you were right. I had betrayed you. Betrayed us. For nothing. I deserved nothing from you ever again. I had nothing left of you. No letters, no pictures, no anything. Forced away by me. By my actions. By my pathetic, brief lust for someone else’s flesh, for someone else’s adoration. Someone else’s attention. Nothing.

 

Hold for the last time then slip away quietly

Open my eyes

But I never see anything

 

And now here I am. Drunk. Or at least on the way to being drunk. Sitting playing this song on repeat. Endlessly. Pictures Of You. Pictures Of You. The memories flooding back. The regret, the mistakes, the stupidity all still raw. All still real. My own flesh failing. Withered by the years. Withered by the betrayal.

And now here you are. In my hand. Your obituary. All that I have left of you. Taken before your time. The only thing I’ve had of you since that night you left. Even all these years later it still hurts. The memory of you. There was always that hope. A glimmer. It faded significantly over the years but there was still something there. Unextinguished. Barely. But there. The glimmer of hope, one that defied all sense and logic, that we would find our way back to each other once again. All the women I’ve been with over the years, they always, always, cowered in your shadow in my thoughts. As much as I tried to move on, as much as I tried to force through the restraint, the memory of you kept pulling me back. I thought, many times over the years, of tracking you down. Laying my heart out for you. Begging for forgiveness. Begging for your love. But I had no way of finding you. You could have been abroad for all I’d known. Little did I know you were living on the other side of the city all along. In your own bubble. Living your own life. But, truth be told, even if I had known where you were I likely wouldn’t have had the courage or conviction to make the move. I didn’t have the courage to fight for us back then so what in the fucking world would have given me the courage to seek you out then or now. Your obituary says you were happy. A big player in the local music industry. A mother of three. Married for 20-something years. You always wanted kids. The family. The big house in the West End. They could have been mine. They should have been mine. They should have been ours. The whole set up.

You died young. Too young. But you died happy. Or so it seems. And I’m glad. Glad that you didn’t allow me to ruin your life. Glad you didn’t allow the betrayal to stain your life. Glad that you left the memory of me behind. Left me. Alone. Nothing more now than a forgotten memory. Nothing more than flesh.

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