Sunday, July 17, 2005

They found his body. Not the kind of news you want to get first thing in the morning. The text didn’t say anything more.

It’s been two weeks since he disappeared in the mountains. They found his car, but he never made it to the first lodge. I tried to tell myself that he might have changed his plans, maybe he met some beautiful stranger and they both set off on a mysterious adventure. K was always playing the unexpected: he enjoyed that. It was part of his image. But I knew I was fooling myself. His spontaneity was always carefully planned. And this time… the guest house reservations, the phone calls he promised to make. Something bad must have happened.

It’s been almost four years since I last saw him. We had a goodbye dinner in our side of the yard. That last dinner was all wrong: he said all the wrong things, talked about the wrong things. I was too busy saying goodbye to stop him. But his words sunk in, and on each of my visits, when I thought of calling him, something held me back. “He was good for you there and then, when you lived in R street, when you were next door neighbours” said A “why mull over it. Look at it this way: it was good while it lasted.” I knew she was right, I should let it go. Yet something in me now wants to embrace him, one last time.

S thought I was attracted to him. This comment caught me by surprise one evening, as we were coming back from his side of the yard, after tea with ginger wine. But I had to admit that it was an infatuation of some sort. There was something of a cat about him. I remember the day he told me, in an astonished tone, that Louise – a majestic grey kitten, one of the many street cats we were feeding at the back yard– had come back to the yard, and had turned out to be a male. “And a real man she is”.

The yard we have here, in Vine Lodge, reminds me sometimes of that open back yard of R. street, where all the neighbours would chat to each other over their fences. From April to November we would all be hanging out in the back gardens: S and me had a little sofa and table outside and we would have all our meals there; K often joined us. Silently, in the dim light coming through our kitchen window, we would watch the slugs take their slow paths on the stone fence; after long moments K would sigh and say: ‘what fun’.

Now, on a sunny London morning, as I finished my passion fruit tea, I heard myself say it after him, against my will: what fun.

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