Usurped by a terrapin

She bounded into the studio, her face aflame with what looked like sunburn. In just a tee-shirt and cotton khaki trousers she looked the very picture of hearty good health. Tea? I asked. Oh, go on then, she replied. Milk? Just a drop. What does just a drop mean? I thought. Is that OK, I asked, sliding in through the door and putting the paper cup of tea under her nose for inspection. Oh, I’m not fussy, she said. Have you done radio before? I asked. Just the once, she said, and I was usurped by a terrapin and ended up with just two minutes. I had no idea what she meant but laughed anyway, saying, Let’s hope there’s no terrapins this time. Oh, I don’t mind, she said, terrapins are far more interesting. I listened in the office. She was good. Clear and engaging. Sometimes I really like this job.

She texted in the end, two messages and two texts later. Do I irritate her? I don’t know how to be, how to manage all this. My wants and her non-wants. Just breathe, she would say and accept what is. Accept the messiness of it. I can’t rid it of the mess. It has happened. This is what we are left with, can it not be enough? Is that what she would say? Isn’t this enough?

I think I will make as well as write my way through it. I can do it in secret, in private. Harness the energy, the ungiven love and time into things, into gestures, into making.

Oh, God, he said at breakfast. I laughed. Sometimes they do play some pretty obscure music on Radio 3 of a morning. What’s she singing about? he asks as another woman begins to wail. Big pants, I reply. At some point they were playing something called Airport Music by a composer called Julie Wolfe. I actually rather liked it.

Just let them get on with it, he said. He is right. I get myself all tied up in knots. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just let them get on with it.

The day unravelled. So be it. I read too much into people’s expressions, voices. It isn’t all about me. I am safe.

I will send it off. Off into the world and see what happens. Perhaps nothing. It doesn’t matter. It has been made. And that is enough.