I saw Rupert again. He took me on the ferry to Staten Island. “I want to go somewhere out of the way,” I told him. So he took me to an Italian bistro I’d never heard of. It was cheap and delicious. We went for a walk along the jetty. “I like the night air,” I said. “It’s cold and I can feel the salt.”
“You’re very pretty,” he told me.
“I don’t want you to like me in that way,” I said, “because I won’t always look like this.”
I find the sea hypnotic. I guess it’s the closest thing I have to religion, standing on the end of a pier watching the ripples as they flow under me, until I become dizzy and forget who I am.
I slept over at Rupert’s. I don’t really know why. I was woken by his alarm clock, and the sun coming in through curtains we’d forgotten to close. My mouth was dry, so I thought about putting it under the kitchen tap. Un-ladylike. But he can accept me how I am or not at all.
Putting on last night’s dress, “I won’t stay for breakfast,” I said. Fastening on my gold earrings. Heavy orbs. My hair still big with lacquer. He pulled me to him, in front of the large fridge and tried to kiss me. In truth I am hungry but would rather eat breakfast alone. I wonder if I can get away with this dress for the office. Hmm. But I have a shawl in my bag and a pair of flat shoes in my desk draw, that will seem casual enough.
“Why are you being like this babe?” asked Rupert,
“Like what?” I snapped,
I felt claustrophobic in the apartment. I don’t think I want this, I don’t want to be the girl he calls when he has nothing to do on Wednesday night.
“You’re running away,” he said,
“No, I have to get to work,”
“Call me later,” he said.
I walked to the metro thinking about the lady-sculptress in California who had built an installation out of six billion grains of salt. Taking grains out every day for the people who had died, and putting some in for the people who had been born. We’re all just made of salt, I thought. What is all this really about.
Image: Seashells print, by Connie