I sat on an evening train. A loaded bag was beside me, and I was armed with a barrage of red; red lipstick, red high heels, red nails. Around my neck were two necklaces: one, a small diamond heart hanging from a bronze chain; the other, a catholic cross, one blue sapphire missing, but otherwise intact. The two were knotted around my neck, the chains twisted and furled around each other in a cold, unrelenting metal embrace.
The train reached my stop, and as I gathered my weapons to face the onslaught of the party ahead of me, where couples would seek each other out and shoot with their own arrows of lustful wantonness, I armed myself to face the night with many, but most definitely alone. Rather than have a human hand encasing mine, I had a phone. I stood up to alight from the train – but as I tugged on my jacket, there was an attack from the back, at the nape of my neck. The two necklaces were caught on each other and on the back of my jacket. Terrified to break either of them, and also terrified to be caught looking ridiculous on public transport (where one must keep one’s wits about them, especially on that Ayrshire line) I slid out the arms of the jacket and pulled it to my front. Sure enough, the clip of the heart had caught the clip of the cross, and the two were caught on the small metal hook at the back. I pulled them free, careful, as not to snap either of the chains. Later, when I looked in the mirror of the bathroom that night, there was a long and slim lilac line forming on the side of my neck. My own artillery had burned me.
I’ll stop being so vague now. Surely you’re wondering what happened the fateful night of the Oran Mor, where I melted at the thought of Jonathan being through the wall from me. All I will tell you is that whilst I can’t explain the level of excitement that pulsated through me as I walked through to the other side, I also cannot explain the deflation and confusion when I saw a stranger on the spot I’d imagined Jonathan stood, yet heard him as if he was standing right in front of me.
Strike one. And I was struck; I was those ten skittles, reeling uncontrollably across the floor. He told me he didn’t know why he did it; he wanted to have something in common with me; he wanted me to admire him; the condition acted for him and he was being dictated by his depression to lie; he wanted to impress me, it went on too far, he couldn’t go back.
And so what did I do? Run away, your shouting at my words. What are you doing! He’s clearly lying – what else has he lied about? Come on, Carla! You’re supposed to be a clever girl!
I can hear you! I shout it back at myself too! But I couldn’t hear then. Like a person running into oncoming traffic, I found myself, after serious chastising, telling him that I wished I could stop talking to him, but I couldn’t, because I loved him.
And so it began. Two months on, and Jonathan and I had already spoken about marriage. Our conversations were so full of private jokes that it looked like a foreign language. Every day, every night, getting later and later till it seemed that the concept of sleep was and had always been a dream. I couldn’t get enough; as long as I didn’t question his disregard for face-to-face communication, things were blissful. He understood me, but most of all, he loved me. We were two of the same thing; we had become one.
My 17th birthday arrived. I woke up with the thought burning my brain; the morning's post. And sure enough, it came. His handwriting, on a simple white envelope. His pen curving around the letters of my name. I felt it was the first time my presence was solidified on this Earth. He had touched this; and it was trembling on my lap. Our Shakespeare sonnet; declarations in French; apologies for not being there; promises for the future. Promises; solid, hard promises. I tipped it upside-down, afraid to seek out it’s innards, and out fell a small, cold, hard and most indefinitely real heart on a chain. Jonathan had sent me his heart to wear around my neck, and if that wasn’t calling your ownership as a cat pisses on its territory, I don’t know what is. Sheer delight; utter love.
I tied it immediately, and it began it’s long intercourse with my cross, a gift from my mother.
It was my mother that pointed out that the envelope was stamped in Edinburgh sorting office. The letter was supposed to be sent from Plymouth, and so that’s where the sorting office would have been located – in or around it’s county. I was angry at her for being so negative about my beautiful part of Jonathan, and determined to prove her wrong, I phoned the Plymouth royal mail office.
“Hello, I’m wondering if you could help me. I have a letter here that was supposed to be sent from Plymouth, and I live in Scotland. But the letter is stamped Edinburgh sorting office. I’m wondering if you could tell me whether letters that get posted to Scotland get sorted in Edinburgh, or the place of posting?’
A monotonous, bored voice. ‘Letters are sorted in their place of posting. If the letter you received is stamped Edinburgh, that is where it is sent from.”
I hung up. My fingers found the heart and I twisted it round and round until my finger slowly started turning purple. At least there was life in that.