Build it. Break it. Build it, break it.
I exercise control in the small mannerisms I have adopted over the years. The minor, domestic cogs of my life, turning in perfect succession. Succinct, and ritually executed. These are the private domains of my psyche, the charts and the crosses, the changing of bed linen and the calculated hoovering of square spaces. Each chart is built of boxes, and each room possesses borders. The hoover head stops at skirting boards.
He is stood before me in the doorway, stark jacket resting upon angular shoulders. The edge of his sleeve runs parallel with the slim line of the doorframe. Calm, and calculated I invite him to sit. The buzz of the lightbulb above me is secondary, to the rising and falling of my breath.
My ritualistic conventions begin with the creation of a list. It always begins with a list. Pluck the same pen from the pen pot, and draft out the contents of my mind into the neat bullet point plot of the page.
1. Pick up shopping
3. Call boss
Feel the tension build, the air starting to fill with electricity. Before this it is small talk and courteous exchanges of trivial information. I am interested, drawn in, but all the while my thoughts are one millisecond ahead. The endgame is in motion already, but I must begin on a slow rise. I cannot soar ahead, cannot pre-empt the fall.
I ensure my handwriting stays perfectly slanted, perfectly poised. Do not let it slack. Stick the black ink, upon the white page, between the black borders. It is a monochrome masterpiece. This way, I can control my emotions. Control the pen, control the person.
Action and reaction, it takes its natural course. The swift, momentary departure of words off my lips, and we sink to the armchair, effigies in play beside one another. My skin is waxen, solidified in the yellow light. Upon request I rise, and turn out the lights. Melting back into the cushions, I can sit beside him. Now we have descended into the ink blue.
Rising from my desk, I put my scheme into action with putting away clothes. Lifting the dry cotton from the basket, and folding once, twice, thrice. Then it goes away, slotting perfectly into the Tetris-grid of my drawers. Stacks upon one another, layer upon layer, until the last piece of the pattern is complete.
My head treads lightly on his rib cage, my skull heavy with consciousness. I lay my hair out like a fan upon the fleece of his sweater, and hear him breathe. My ear knows his chest more intimately than he knows me. Listen to the thud of his heart. It beats in the same rhythmic manner, in which my heart beats. Dull, I think to myself.
I dig my nails into my thighs. Or if I’m feeling bold, into the palms of my hand. I keep digging, until I know that if I were to look down I would see red arches. Crescent moons upon my flesh. Now it is time to start hoovering.
Neither one of us utters a word. I relish the long silence, in which static begins to materialise.
I pick up the weighted body of the hoover, and drag the ridged pipe across the floor. The carpet is friction, and my legs are two rocks. The roar of the suction kicks in, and I begin to obliterate dust, lint, bluebottles, like it is second nature. The room smells like skin and my head feels like dust.
Count to three … one, two, three …
I hum hollow tunes to myself, below the rumble of the hoover. Turn it left, right, left, clumsily trailing back on its path, repeating motions and vowing to never miss a section. I roll laps around the room, repeating and repeating until I am satisfied. I can picture the neat tick I shall place upon my list.
And failing to act upon three, inhale, turn sharply, and kiss him upon four. A flash of gold, blue, and fleshy pink behind my eyelids. A clumsy, brutish impulse, in which the locking of lips stuns like an electric shock. The hiss of an empty lighter. I have no senses, no grounding, but the awareness of warm lips and escapee saliva. I am not sure who it belongs to, and nor do I care. The plush sensuality of existence is cradled by this blackout. I am weightless. This tunnel vision exacts my focus down to a tiny, minuscule spark. But the spark demands feeling.
I unplug the hoover, turn off the switch, and sit down on my bed. Every inch of my space is clean, unoccupied. I fold my hands in my sterile lap, and inhale.
We tessellate with ease, despite the absence of calculation.
– Emily Black