Where’ve you come from? the police woman asked me, did you go under the tape? Yes, I said, I thought it was only for cars. This wasn’t strictly true. I knew I was misbehaving but I thought I could just slip through without being noticed. What harm could it do? Where do you want to get to? she asked. She looked a little stressed. A small woman, petite even. The station, I answered. Well you’ll just have to go back the way you came, she said, I need to keep this contained. Has something happened? I asked. She didn’t reply and I turned round to go back under the tape, before taking the steps down under the bridge. A little bit of nothing in our small town. What had happened? An incident of some kind, clearly. A stabbing, the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb, an escaped criminal, a heist, a hide-out? It intrigued me for a moment, then it was gone. I’ll tell him when I get home then let it go. Forget it. You naughty thing, going under the tape, he said. Yes, I said, aren’t I?
In the end it was nice.
I didn’t want to do it. I was dog-tired. It’s the carrying of all this tension. It shatters me. And when the tightness finally leaves, my body feels bruised and battered. I didn’t want to do it. All that way. All that way to sew on some beads. Why had I signed up for it? Because I had been beguiled by her sweetness, her openness and her simplicity. I wanted to continue to be a little in her light. I get like that with people. I am sponge to what I see as their loveliness. I want to be in their umbra. So I’d put my name down on a whim. Twenty-five quid, certainly. I’d love to. Two and half hours it took. Dog-tired both of us. A pot of tea helped. A pot of tea with a brown and orange pom pom tea cosy. We ordered another pot. Do you want the same cosy or another one? asked the hyper-camp man from behind the counter. No, let’s stick with this one, I said. I love your dress, said the girl making lunches in the back room. And I love yours, I replied. Which was true. I’d admired it. A lovely, fresh dress, a full-scale print of a summer’s day, blue sky and everything. And I haven’t got a dress on at all, said the camp man. Next time, I said. I like him. I remembered him from my last visit. I like to hear him talk with his high, melodic voice. And watch his walk, a rolling, hip-swinging one, with his pinny tied high up his waist. I love it that he can be this way without restraint. Marvellous.
It was nice to sit there sewing. There were eleven of us in all. All women. Wouldn’t it be great if a man turned up, I said to the woman on my right. I don’t think she understood what I meant for she made no answer. I should’ve explained. You know, anything to break the gender stereotyping, but I left it. I didn’t want to make an exhibition of myself that day. Just be quiet. She was lovely, lots of hugs. I hope she likes the article. I want to be kind. It was nice. Companionable, just to hear them chatter. The woman with her wheezing breath breaking the sometime silence. Oh, God, I sewn it to my skirt, exclaimed one woman and her friends laughed. Then half and hour later, the same woman to her companion, are your hens laying? I learnt a little but it wasn’t really about that. It was just something different. Three hours of gentle, orderly distraction and using my hands.
I’ve begun her book. We talked about it in the car. The listening to Chopin mostly. He struggles with her. He sees through what he thinks is a pose. I am not sure. I think she is genuine, earnest, true. I feel such compassion for her. I think she is at odds with the world sometimes. I want to hold her. I always have. There is something like vulnerability in her that is hard to witness.
Oh, the fear, it continues to assail me. Will it help? Can I help myself? So much fear. Fear of every step. Just do it. That’s all you have to do is do without fear of failure. The black bag. Love that failing part. As you love the failing light, the failing moon, the failing breath. Ring those golden bells soon, eh? Soon. And let there be rest.