The days are all chilled and I am always tired. I am tired of remembering when I want to forget and forgetting when I need to remember.
For a few hours a day I see sun light though the office window and I guzzle it in quick glances stolen from the irritable flicker of number-buzz screen. I feed myself that little light and tell myself better, brighter days will come, without really believing it.
Pain is still painful. Philosophy only gets you so far through each day.
I feel fragile – the haw-frost bloom that somehow keeps its head up despite the crystalised weight of cold. There is a dignity in the fortitude of winter’s flowers but I don’t like this life, don’t see how I could have wanted this.
I am at the office Christmas party, wondering why I ever though this would be fun, wondering what turn in life has brought me here. I thought you would be here with me.
The table is heavy with pulled crackers, abandoned purses, deflated balloons slumped on discarded party hats, all lightly iced with a fall of plastic snowflakes.
I look beautiful. Somehow tonight, I see it, even with my ever over critical eye. But I feel like the plastic candle that beams mutely in the centre piece – perfect, pretty but lacking in real light or warmth. I sit, shuffle, shift awkwardly in my seat and try to look busy on my phone.
The drink is flowing and smiles broaden, lose center and eagerly adopt new angles. Pints turn to spirits, spirits to shots and suddenly everyone think Jägerbombs are a brilliant idea. I know this trajectory well.
Packs of sequins prowl the room, closing in on the wobblier men lost on the perimeters. The band looks a little anxious, as if the night might easily go either way, but dutifully croon Cliff’s Christmas classics, as if they can see the star rising in the sky. We are all consummate fakers at heart.
Some guy from the office is doing an enthusiastic attempt at the funky chicken to ‘We are family’. The dance floor clears around him, startled by his pelvic thrusts.
The directors attempt casual conversation with a studied formality. Plump middle aged women let lose with a vigour that suggests they don’t get to do this very often.
As a temp, I have license to lurk. I have no real place here.
I feel like I ought to be enjoying myself but know that I’m not.
I know that at some point they’re going to play ‘I will survive’ and I pray I won’t be here by then – and then laugh aloud at my stubborn resistance to this particular path of abandonment.
For no particular reason, my thoughts flick a world away. I remember the Chilean women who danced with photographs of their disappeared loves. I think of their effort to express what cannot be expressed, to bring loss alive and live it fully, and I join the floor.
The flashing lights attack with each glass-eyed turn of the disco ball but I no longer see them. I lift up my arms, spread them wide and sway with the rhythms I hear.
I let the dance be my pleasure, but also my protest. There is no comparison, but there is little logic in loss, so I let this be my mourning for what I am missing, for my dreams that did not come.
I am that flower – drooping, heavy hearted, but still upright, hoping for the sun to return.
I dance alone.