“Hello, Sarah, my bestest friend: sorry I’m late.”

“You’re not late. You just come and go as you like.”

“I’m late. I promised to watch that thing with you.”

“Don’t be so black and white and punitive. It’s fine to abandon minor promises when something more important takes over. Anyway you were probably catching up with sleep. How did it go?”

“The sleep? It was a nightmare … oh, sorry, that was awful … but it was. Every joint from my lower back and down seems to have been lubricated with coarse grit. Sleep was sort of difficult.”

“Then pull up a chair or sit on the mattress before you collapse or whinge any more. Even better, move me back a bit then lie down facing me and tell me everything about it. No! I said move me back a bit and lie down.”

“Whoa, you’re bossy boots today. But your voice is really coming along. It’s sort of musical now. How does it feel?”

“Like a voice. Tell me about the race. Lie down and stop pratting about.”

“Fine: is this alright? I’m not squashing you against the sidebars am I? I’d better warn you that I may fall asleep at any moment. Weird, I can’t focus on you properly. You’re fuzzily close.”

“You can still focus on me – just not my face.”

“Oh please don’t get all metaphysical. I will really get nightmares. Why are you looking at me like that? Hey, this is a new trolley!”

“Yes, it’s wider. Now tell me about the race. I inquire out of politeness: I’m not that interested and suppose you didn’t do very well anyway.”

“You old bag. The last ten miles was the worst.”

“Good, that’s polite interest in nothing much out of the way. Now we can have a conversation.”

“But we always have conversations anyway. In this weather there’s not much else to do together.”

“There is – and that’s something we may get around to … hopefully.”

“Hold up: what’s going on here? You liked that trolley precisely because it was narrow and didn’t get stuck in doorways … and you wanted me to lie here, which is lovely of you by the way. What are you planning and what sort of conversation do you want for goodness sake?”

“Not a conversation, the conversation.”

“Oh-oh, your voice can threaten doom as well now. What is the conversation?”

“Exactly not doom. What do you want to talk about?”

“What? But…”

“I want to talk about the same thing as you want to talk about. You start, but do get on with it. Mae is coming back with my shopping … oh, and it’s catheter changing day. That’s something I’d never let you … Well, I don’t suppose it’s any worse than your wiping snot from my nose and mouth when I’ve got a cold, or feeding me, or… Fine, do what you like. Mae can teach you all the medical nursey bit.”

“Let’s put all that aside for a moment and concentrate on this mysterious conversation you are so desperate to have. Give me a clue.”

“I have: I started it already. Didn’t you notice the herd of elephants charging into the room?”

“Give me a break. I’m brain dead at the moment.”

“Ah, that moment! The one between being conceived and finally dying after a whole lifetime of senility.”
“Not only are you insufferably rude, you are as diplomatic as Genghis Khan and subtle as a nuke.”

“But you still can’t grasp what I’m on about! See the insurmountable challenges you give me? You are impossibly thick.”

“Can any of those operations be reversed? I liked you better quiet.”

“You love me being able to speak. One day I may even sing to you. Ooh, you’ve gone all quiet. Are you thinking? Wait, I’ll alert the national news agencies.”
“About you singing… I was going to say something rude … but … but … I’d absolutely love to hear you sing. It’s not even something I’ve fantasised about. It would be like the sun rising on the very first day of creation.”

“Sweet and pretty but forget all that poetic stuff and go for real beauty and truth. You’re getting closer, mister big dreamy eyes. Go on – take risks: you’re very good at them.”

“You’re playing with me, you rat.”

“It’s my favourite game: just a shame it’s so easy. I’ll give you a clue: why are you here?”

“To tell you about the race.”

“Boring. Now answer the question. Currently there are more elephants in this room than usually would grace an entire planet.”

“We agreed a ban on metaphysical.”

“You did. This is more super-positional: cat in a box thing. I think you’re the cat.”

“I need clues, not terror, you merciless toad-rat monster thing.”

“Now that’s metaphysical. Are you enjoying this conversation?”

“It’s like walking through a minefield and not being blown up yet.”

“Ahh, poor little scaredy-cat. Where’s the brave fell-runner hiding? I’ll give you some conversation clues. Why do you come here every day you possibly can? – even when you’re in pain from running ridiculous distances up rocky mountains, and why are you lying beside me? Don’t faff around: stop whining and answer the question. I would pat your head in a horribly patronising way just now if I could. Can you just imagine me doing it instead? Even better, lift my arm and bat yourself around the face until you answer. Yes, like … no, wrong: good try, but that’s stroking your face with my fingertips. Nice, but shave next time.”
“I’ve told you a hundred times it’s running downhill that wrecks runners – not uphill.”

“And I’ve failed to listen again. I’m setting amazing records. Now stroke my lips with your fingers: go on – now. It’s another clue. Do you think my lips would feel better to you if I had them Botoxed?”

“Interesting concept: I do need a sink plunger from time to time. We could try it. Actually no – I’d probably suffer from lip inadequacy PTSD psychosis black death syndrome – if I’m not already.”

“Don’t stop stroking my lips – but tell me how you feel about it. I’ll give you all the time in the world.”

“Ah … fuck.”

“Can you elaborate? that could be taken a number of ways.”

“I … oh…”

“You are so easily panicked and confused, like – like a politician being interviewed by someone of moderate intelligence. I’ll simplify as much as possible. If I have to simplify any more I’ll need an artist to put it into stick-men pictures. Here we go. You like being with me as much as you can and you feel at home here: at home. Look around. Now around again and now back to me. Your eyes are getting even wider. That’s it! you did it! You actually did it maybe almost…”


“You moved in. Now all you have to do is bring your stuff over.”

“No, seriously, I can’t inflict myself on you; you know I have more than my share of evil and stupid bits.”

“You test them out on me – actually you’re not testing them, you’re testing me. You find a tiny part of your personality you hate and damn and torture the whole of you because of just that. By bringing them to me you get to see what a sane well-balanced person does with them.”

“You don’t do anything with them.”

“I do. I love them. Nobody’s perfect and you won’t love those bits so I do it for you: and anyway, they’re tiny flaws; not being very good with money – well, these days people are bombardicated not to be by advertisers. You can’t help feeling helpless pain when you see the poor and homeless. That does cause you problems. I can sort that by limiting your available money so you can give but not impoverish yourself. You told me your nephew lied to you the other day about something. I bet you’ve already forgotten and forgiven – but you never do either for yourself no matter how young you were when you lied or how insignificant the problem. Ultimately those mount up and now they’ve become a huge problem that’s forever going to be a source of self-contempt. You rarely change your clothes or clean your flat because there’s no one to remind you and you can be distracted by … by anything: by nothing sometimes. You’re always late, always disorganised, always punishing and hating yourself and always utterly adorable. There’s needless suffering which I can reduce or remove. What? you kissed me — my finger tips. It was probably unconscious but you’re making excellent headway.”


“But my hand got in the way.”

“That’s what I intended to…”

“But my hand got in the way. I’ll keep repeating this until you catch on and kiss what you actually want to. Look, this is how it will be – I’m going to do your braining for you and you’ll do any muscly things that I can’t. That’s symmetrical and perfect. It’s weird, we hate so much of ourselves but love each other. Oh, wait: you’re going to kiss me now and it’s going to be my first ever kiss. Expect the unexpected. I may faint or scream or moan and whimper or … explode.”

“Bite my face off?”

“Hmm, only the bit you’ve washed since the race. Really, if you dug through the grime to your ears you’d find rocks, and possibly animals, from ten mountains ago.”

“Hey, I was in the shower for ages this morning!”

“I’m stunned by your braveity, initiative and endeavourishness. If you keep them up you’ll be able to switch the water on one day.”

“That was actually quite funny. Wow, you’re so beautiful!”

“Just keep saying that a lot. I may get bored of it after a couple of billion years, in which case you should stop for thirty seconds until I become desperate.”

“Thirty seconds?”

“Hmm, yes – no – a bit dodgy don’t you think? Maybe we should start at ten seconds and work our way up. If we get it right maybe we can do some sexy stuff. But with your crap concentration and my tangled body it could be tricky. By the way, I love you madly.”

“Wow! same to you. Oh, I think that reminded me about my tablets this morning.”

“What? Where’s the connection?”

“How should I know? It was a thought dislodged from the chaos inside this crowded and noisy skull. I counted all five tablets in the palm of my hand but not the other two: those were painkillers. I tried putting them all in a line to count but it became too complicated.”

“Did you record that you counted them?”

“No … I don’t think so but I’ll tell the medical people anyway.”

“You’ll forget but it’s alright; I’ll remind you. We’re a team.”

“Well, Sarah, here comes our first kiss as you commanded. Any last requests – just in case of disaster?”

“Think of a ball with a two dimensional you on one side and me on the other … um, just a memory of our despised selves. We’ll live inside the ball from now. We are the ball: we’re us.”

©Gary Bonn, 2020