Being Alone

She wasn’t bad at being alone.

She’d studied it, practised, perfected the art of shopping for retreat and she could spend days doing just about nothing at all.

People talked. They said she hadn’t always been that way although she had spent most of her life on the run.

They told stories of profligate parties, the social butterfly, addicted to entertaining. And later, afterwards, how she’d shut herself in with a bottle. It was understandable. It must have been the shock.

Now she was thrown back on herself again it wasn’t the parties she dwelt on. At night she was married again. The first time. Optimistic. Trusting. Young. Or a child, even, on the beach, in a tent, with her parents when they were happy. Before. Or a parent herself, busy again with a house full of life, until morning and the birds. The throb of commuting traffic quietened. Neighbours, still. The silence before the radio’s abrupt intrusion a stark reminder that they had all gone, now. She was utterly alone.

It had started again. That reaching for, clawing at, the possibility of love, for attention but no one must know. If anybody discovered (and lately there had been a few close shaves all of her own making on youtube) – well if, if it were found out, that she hadn’t been entirely straight … it was a risk. Life is, admittedly, full of risk. Safe lives, she thought, were half lives, wasted lives. You had to take a punt on chance.

She’d read somewhere it was purple day. Everyone should wear purple to show support for, raise awareness of, she couldn’t remember what, today. She’d dress up again today – but what was the point of a bath? Was there any real need? Not now. Now everything had changed.

The purple dress had seen better days – days she wondered if anyone still thought of. She’d shredded the photographs, burnt his letters, even that last which now she wished she had kept – for analysis. To read between the lines. And the gold boots. She’d wrapped them in taffeta – a memory in a trunk. She knew just where they were and as she tugged at the zip she felt him again, toppling her over – she had reached the age when you have to sit down to put your shoes on. He hadn’t. And of course her second husband never would.

The dress, and the taffeta shawl hung from her wasting shoulders, was alive with dreams that were of course now nothing but that. Memories of promises. And, well, and. She had thought she’d never recover. From the shock. Then.

But of course she had. Now.

She was not bad a being alone.

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