Monday, March 06, 2006

early days of Katy

Katy had her elbows on the sill, popping her skirt in the air like a luscious black crocus. It was sunlit in the bay-window, with a little icy breeze.

He had turned into an office fixture, somehow. His elevenses was creme egg on a bed of baguettes, he was roly-poly and rather forbidding. He came back to his desk and answered his phone, spiralling off into a detailed condemnation of marketing strategy or lack thereof. He laughed explosively, lolling and propping his stomach twixt chair and desk. He almost mentioned lunch, but he decided it would have been too soon for Ned. People sound all right when they're at the end of a phone.

Still the thought of Katy swirled in the windows. It was the same weather, the same sparkling morning with its icy breeze; old-fashioned weather, he thought of it. He had a twinge of wanting to move back up there.

They hadn't long met. Katy's thoughtful gaze went right across the broad vale of York; the horizons were clear, and 20 or 30 miles off the mighty cooling towers held your eye: Ferrybridge, Drax A and B... and over there the Pennines. Like brighter clouds, some of the edges glimmered with snow. “Great Whernside, I believe”; force of association set his hand reaching comfortably for her drapery. It went no further at the time, they were sitting about in a hotel lounge, but then they had the conversation, which broadly went like this.

Well, it started with a lad from five years earlier, whose name he'd now forgotten: Simon it might have been. They'd been an ordinary pair, probably, just having fun and living the high life. They'd been doing it for a few months when he got himself killed in a bike smash. He was away at the time. She'd never met his family, who lived in another part of the country. For the first week or so, she thought he was dumping her. Then – well, it must have been ghastly. Quite awful.

But it had been five years, after all. At that age, you do bounce back. Just a little catch in the face sometimes, and that's what she showed him now. He thought of it as a zigzag; in fact he could see that spasm clearer than he could see her face.

Katy's idea was that losing someone really close was the most unspeakable thing that could happen to anyone. If you came through it at all, you came through in a ruined, a weakened state. You were needy, you couldn't do good work, you resented the happiness of other people, you cut yourself off, worst of all you became estranged from your living family, you could no longer provide for them. And she said, it's nothing selfish, it's not about cowardice, it's our duty to make sure, if we can, not to have that happen to us.

He was a lion, he said he'd ALWAYS be there for her. If you put him to it, of course, he hadn't really believed at that moment that he was never going to die, but when you're full of feeling for someone it's the kind of thing you just blurt out, and you're fine about saying it. The fact is, he was in heaven, because it was quite obvious that Katy was having this serious conversation with him because they were really it, he felt it already and now she was telling him. Katy's idea was that on a pre-arranged date, maybe ten years time, they'd split and go off into other lives - it would hurt very much, but not like someone dying. It seemed workable at that moment, they didn't think about any kids they might want themselves - well, they were still very young.

It turned out to be academic. The engagement never came, they started to fight about stupid things, and he drank quite a lot of vodka. One day he brought a pal back from work; he was coming to the end of his contract. Katy's dinner was a shocker, the so-called saffron turned out to be a fake that coloured the rice flesh-pink not yellow; the three of them sat there with plates of maggots in front of them. Finally she pissed off back to Manchester, she married and had three or four children, and that was the last he heard or wished to hear.

But for him, they should have been it. For him. He thought of her as perpetually young, sheathed in fire, her face alight with a kind of snow-glow. Reception called; the auditors had arrived. The young lady, he remembered, was fairly decorative. His door was ajar but he went over to the filing cabinet so he couldn't be seen from the corridor. He started gulping down his food in crazed lumps, leaning his forehead on the metal.



At 11:52 am, Blogger Fabry said...

Hi !
Nice blog!


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