' N E W Y E A R '
Standing alone waiting for the last southbound Northern line train, I’m surrounded by couples arm-in-arm swaying, kissing, laughing—all, it seems, in love. All together. The woman next to me folds backwards across her partner’s arm, mouth wide in a drunken guffaw, pink lipstick smeared under her mouth and caked between her front teeth. There’s confetti caught in her blonde curls. She’s beautiful in all her chaos. I imagine that she’s been stuck in the same pose since after that kiss at midnight, marking the forward movement into the New Year. 2013. Her gold dress glitters under the dull, flickering lights of the Tube station, tinted slightly green. It feels like the end of the night. It feels like the end of everything.
I open up my phone and begin writing an optimistic note about how this year will be different for us, but you’re not here and I know my words are empty. A performance for you. This whole affair has been a performance. Me performing for you. Playing the poet, playing the artist, playing the puppy dog, coming to heel when you need me, knowing that you’ll never be there, waiting by the door, willing for me to come to you. You love to be adored, to be in pain. Faithful—emotionally, even if your lips wander from bed-to-bed—to one, but preying on the women and girls who pity you. Alone half the year, waiting for her to return for the London summer. The girls who sigh and smile when the corners of your eyes fold into their sympathetic creases. Smiling but sad. Sad but adored. I know I’m one of those girls. And I hate myself for it. I hate you for making me become this.
The train announcer asks people to stand back from the edge of the platform as they dance, teetering on the brink of old and new love. Shapeshifting into the new year. The same, but different. We are all always different. Cells renewing again and again. My forehead itches beneath my beanie, emblazoned with a metal label populated by bands I’ve never listened to. I haven’t the energy for all the shouting over the fast drums, their anger is bolder than mine. Mine simmers in my lower abdomen. Did you know that my body can no longer digest food and my fringe has begun turning white? My body will show lasting reminders of you.
The train pulls in. I continue typing, minding the gap. Playing the role of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in my own sad, knowingly cute, but doomed tale I write about the stars aligning, the end of the world coming, surviving and us being ok. We’re not going to be ok. We never were. Nothing can start like this and last. All poetry and dreams and pretending and hiding. The couple across from me are talking about Star Wars. She’s trying to impress him and succeeding, for the most part. He’s leaning his elbow on the seat behind her, smiling dopily, sucking his teeth subtly when she gets the episodes mixed up, too kind to correct her. Too insecure to ruin his chances by offending her. I’ve never held back from telling you what I think and you’ve held everything back from me. Insinuating feelings. Never quite committing, but always in touch. Never letting me go. But you didn’t want me around tonight. To ring in the new year with your friends. Another of your winter girls is with you. Maybe you held her at midnight. Hiding somewhere away from the crowd. Another secret.
I think you first kissed me because I told you about the French model I liked. Who liked me. Who was unattached. Who had a slightly crooked nose like I like. Slightly shy, slightly aloof, but uncomplicated. I told you about how he’d asked me to his flat to watch a documentary and about how we’d slept side by side. Just slept. Content. As I told you, your fingers twisted in knots in your lap, knees knocked, pressing tight together. You made some sarcastic comment about how nice it sounded and how much of a cliche he must be and I knew you wouldn’t let me slip away. Fall easily into someone else’s arms. I was yours. You were not mine. I didn’t tell you about the boy I’d kissed at the studio party. Thinking about him makes my skin crawl, though I can’t determine why.
I end the note with my imagining of us holding hands facing each other. Smiling at each other, assuring one another that we’re in for something better this year. I see these two beautiful characters against a crisp autumn sunset, the orange glow about them like a halo. Safe. Secure. What surrounds us is the orange glow of a fire. Too hot to stay next to, burning through the edges of our clothes, the parts of us that sit too close to the bone feeling as though they’re blistering with the heat. To move away would be too cold. Too sudden. We’ll stay in the heat. In the glow until we can’t hold on any longer. Perhaps it’ll be summer then.
The house is quiet. My breath hangs in the air of my single-glazed room. I get under the heavy, warm duvet of my ridiculous super king bed without getting undressed. I wonder if it would be possible to sleep until the 1st of January 2014 when you’ll be gone. I’m sure you’ll be gone.
' N O T A N I N V I T A T I O N '
I am something to be conquered. I have little to offer, but I am a mystery. Somewhere to fly to. Something for a man to stick a flag in while desperately trying to maintain a power pose with barely any gravity to hold him down. My edges have been poked and scraped and collected without my consent. No women have ever come close to me; neither stood atop nor orbited me. I am something men wish to possess. Wars will be fought over me in due time when the male leaders are done with ruining the most remarkable planet in this solar system. I am not a planet to them, merely a moon. Hanging on all of their stupid decisions, silently watching, silently disgusted, silently scared, knowing that my time will come. My end will begin.
Do you realise that deep chasms of your planet are still a mystery? Sea trenches lie unexplored, untapped. Who knows what they could hold. Cures to diseases, creatures that inspire. But space is sexy. You see me crisp and bright, so close. You think I am beckoning you with my beauty, but please do not mistake my charm for an invitation. Shining is what I do. It isn't for you; it never has been. But, of course, everything that women do is for men, isn’t it? In your eyes we are all for the taking, waiting to be held, waiting to be owned. Dominated. If it weren’t for fear of ridicule, I know you’d catcall me. Ask me how I’m doing, tell me to give you a smile, love. Cheer up, it might never happen. But it will.
From a young age you’ve raised your boys to think that I can be possessed. That the skies around me are theirs for the taking. A lucky few will make the trip and it could be them. A golden ticket to travel in the great glass elevator to the skies above. Your film franchises fetishise me. Glowing solar systems are stuck to ceilings to be gazed at when Earth’s clouds of pollution make seeing me and my sisters impossible. You say you’re equal opportunities and yes, there have been women in space, but you haven’t made it easy. When the world is designed by men–down to the underwear they’re subjected to—nothing is easy. Suits slightly too big. Seat belts that don’t quite do up tight enough.
I wonder how it will feel to have a woman touch my surface. Female energy meeting the mother of female energy. Cycles colliding. Up close will we both feel stronger, more empowered, or will the encounter be too much? It’s said that women are more likely to suffer sickness on leaving Earth’s atmosphere, whereas men are more likely to become unwell on returning. Perhaps after standing and looking back at the earth they realise the true magnanimity of what they and their forebears have done. Or perhaps they just realise that they were with the more beautiful of the two of us all along and regret the time they’ve spent mooning after me.