Portraits from a town

Some people would draw it but I choose words for my pictures. You know the place, you’ve passed through on your way to somewhere else. You didn’t stop and if you did it was just to buy some food  before you drove on. It was nondescript, home to no one you know. You can’t even remember its name. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t small, it was just a town.

He sits outside the house in his car for longer than he should. He loves this car. Its like him, well built, smooth running, up a gear. If he were a car, this is the car he would be.

Outside of the car, inside of the house, is his life. The children don’t fit in the car. She had said it wouldn’t be a problem. Now it’s a problem. Everything is a problem.

He hadn’t thought it would be like this. He had always thought they were together, a unit, as one. It never occurred to him that they just met in the middle occasionally and then went back to their separate lives afterwards. It had been this way forever, when they were dating, when they lived together. They moved in the same circle, different circles, they met in the middle and moved away again as they chose.

And now, now he realised, that wasn’t a relationship at all. Worse. She had become anchored to one spot. Immovable. She was tied to that house and the life inside it. And her life, her circle of movement had shrunk, until she was just standing still looking around her. His circle had remained the same, maybe even gotten bigger. Except now, now she was demanding he shrink it. Demanding she have some of his circle, demanding that she should be able to move. The kids weren’t his fault. The kids were nice to have but shouldn’t restrict who he was. It had changed her, not him.

It was all reflected in their cars, hers full of car seats and wrappers and debris from toddler parties, his sleek and smooth and clean. She was chained to chaos, chained to a single spot and mayhem existed around her and somehow emanated out from her, like it was her super power. She reached out to settle it, but she couldn’t, didn’t want to. The house, their beautiful house, so shiny, so new, with its shades of beige and grey, so well put together, but always untidy, messy, unkempt. There weren’t enough words. He strode through the disorder like a titan, never looking down. He tried not to see it but there were squeaky toys on the couch. He could never find the remote. The place smelled of milk and pooh and powder.  

Then, now, there was Friday. It was a girls night out, one of the few times she would leave the house without them attached. The in-laws were coming, thank goodness, the in-laws were coming. But she wanted to take his car. It was like she hadn’t looked in the mirror lately. It wasn’t right that she should be seen in his car. In his head, there were two lives and they should be kept apart. There was the one that happened in the messy car and then there was this sleek, lithe machine. The former was her but this was him. He hadn’t changed, he had managed to carry on as before. He was aghast at how anchored she had become, how stuck. This car was not built for people who were anchored. This car was built for freedom.

He wasn’t sure what he’d ever seen in her. She had become an alien species, glued to that house. Riveted to that spot. That child, one or the other of them endlessly attached at the hip. He was faking it. He spent every spare minute watching porn or sitting in this car. This sleek clean vehicle. The world around him changed. He sat still in his nice shiny car. There is no way she could use this car.

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