Five past midnight and we’re squaring up for a shouting match.

We’re in my bedroom, alcohol on my breath, the atmosphere tense and sticky, like the hour before a thunderstorm.  I face away from you, and wait for you to quieten.

I carried you home from the pub once again.  As ever you protested all the way.  “Let’s stay awhile longer” you said, “I don’t have anywhere to be” you said.  Even though you want to sleep in tomorrow, I have places to be and things to do.  I sit with back to the mirror listening to you sulk.  The aftertaste of dry roast and pale ale, lingers in my mouth.

Not cigarette though.  I resisted the pull of the lungdart tonight, stepping away from resentful drags that have in times past, given me delusions of self-control.

What am I to do with you?  I hear your voice again, telling me I should slow down, take it steadier.  Take time to listen and to adjust, that we can still work and grow together.  I don’t say anything.  I wish I believed you.  I wish I could recall the times we strutted our stuff without a care.  For now I turn up the Miles Davis and wait for the tension to pass.

It doesn’t.  It drags out.  You’re still here.

Things haven’t been the same between us in 18 months.  At least.  You won’t dance with me any more.  I’d not been well enough before that.  Depression shut me in a dark box, and I couldn’t see you.  I knew you’d be there waiting patiently for me when I emerged, and indeed you were as I bounced into that summer, promising to make up for lost time and to do all the things we’d waited for.

“I’m too old” you said.  “I can’t do this anymore”.

And then I really looked at you, tracing your form in a way I hadn’t for years.  And found you older, worn from care and age, fragmented.  We danced once, and you let me take you onto the dancefloor, the day was special after all.  Afterwards you lay down to rest, your little breathless wheezings punctuating the awful silence.  I knew you were right.  When I carry you home from the pub now, I hear your grudging drags on every other step.

But what next?  We cannot separate and we both know it.  In my bedroom I turn to face you.  The mirror shows you, head to toe in all your decaying weatherbeaten glories.  And you look back at me through silent tears.  Tears not seen for so many years.

I don’t love you any more.  But we know you must stay.

You are ready to retire, body of mine.  But I am ready to live.  Please come with me.

I plead.  I hope.  But for now it seems I have to drag you.


2 thoughts on “Drags

  1. Beautifully written and very moving. Everybody facing getting old can relate to this: I used to dance for hours and now it hurts and I get out of breath. You are writing about a universal experience, but you are having it much too early in your life. I’m sorry.
    Do you think, like an old married couple do with each other, you could learn to love your imperfect body? Love and cherish it, be gentle and forgiving to it, because divorce is not an option and it’s the only one you’ve got. Only an unkind and unloving person makes their partner keep dancing when they don’t want to any more. I know you are angry, and this is completely understandable, but can you listen to your body and make it your friend? It’s not being deliberately uncooperative and it will work better for you if you work together.


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