She said things come out of oak wood, devils as big as your thumb.
She said, hair is important.
She said, “I don’t like to be reminded of space, the world spinning and being so tiny.”
Smoke was what kept them together, and kept them apart. A cloud between, around them. Everywhere he went, smoke was at hand, cigarette smoke, fog, mist. Smoke and its deposits. He was always brushing ash from her dress; they had sex in a greyed slant of light.
Sometimes she didn’t care too much for sex, but she was very serious about hugging and embracing. Wrapping herself round him.
Often she sat huddled seeing things in corners. Or not seeing things, you look and look and there’s nothing, no one there, she complained once. She talked of her lip-chewing teenage years. He would overdo it. Looking after her like a child. Made her lunch: cellophaned ham sandwich and KitKat. Caught ladybirds with her in the garden, the hedge was full of them that summer. Blood beads moving across her fingers.
She was trying to see everything at once and fit herself in, but she couldn’t without bending. Nipping and tucking. She said it hurt, everything hurt. He waited, sang to her quietly, tried to soothe.
When he was alone, walking through town he was burning, crackling with her. But he was calm. He had in him a different order of things.