the evening party /

a collection of writings, poems and photographs by the anonymous author ︎︎︎  
2019—present ︎︎︎ Index of entries ︎︎︎ Email ︎︎︎

‘Ah, we’re an ungrateful race! When I look at my hand upon the window sill and think what pleasure I’ve had in it, how it’s touched silk and pottery and hot walls, laid itself flat upon wet grass or sun-baked, let the atlantic spurt through its fingers, snapped blue bells and daffodils, plucked ripe plums, never for a second since I was born ceased to tell me of hot and cold, damp or dryness, I’m amazed that I should use this wonderful composition of flesh and nerve to write the abuse of life. Yet that’s what we do. Come to think of it, literature is the record of our discontent.’ —The Evening Party, Virginia Woolf

Eve


In retrospect, Sunday was a perfect day, but one never realises such a thing at the time; no, not until they’re allowed to look back, removed, alone most likely, like a sepia photograph, are they able to conclude that it was indeed quite a perfect day.
Journal, October 2019.

At the intersection of London Wall and Moorgate, my mind, stumbling through a trail of thoughts — as one is prone to during solitary and aimless meanderings around the city — realised the date, which had snuck up on me. Had it been a year already? I checked the calendar: it had been three-hundred-and-sixty-seven days. I was thrown. I was sinking. The distraction of work would save me for the next three hours, but after that I would sit on the train tracing our every movement and moment from a year ago in meticulous detail; each vision and memory returned more vivid than the last! A man peered over the seat in front of me, his fingers hanging upon the window latch—‘You mind I keep this open? I’ll close it once it gets a bit draughty.’ I smiled as best I could. Three-hundred-and-sixty-seven days. Remembrance — like a madeleineless Proust — had struck me squarely and now all the stability I thought I had acquired was thrown into disarray.
    Although, as always, I linger in nostalgia, there was one day in particular I could not shake: the sixth of October twenty-nineteen, a Sunday. Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days ago. I was on the eve of something, and my memory does well to haunt me…
    The scent from her hair of last night’s tobacco smoke and dry rain across the pillow is going in & out of sleep; loose caresses of genitals against the warm soft between cotton sheets; the skin on her shoulder blades that rolls over an arrangement of bone as she turns face-to-face; the scent is stronger now and with waking breath. She is without makeup, inches away from the tip of a nose, her hair spread across the pillow and long limbs tucked folded entwined under around through us. If only I could have known then that that day would go on to become so holy in my psyche, that my future self would look back on it with terrible sadness, that the sixth of October would become a holiday, a date when the congregation-of-one is driven to mourn, then I surely would have wept at the inevitability of my situation! Instead we lay there in sweet conversation until I hitched her arse into the air and pulled a muscle in my right leg.
    The daddy longlegs are out. Adults. From somewhere in the grass they have emerged in large numbers. They have missed late summer, through some great astronomical or metereological error, matured in early October, taken clumsy flight and bounce around in the air for what precious flashes of maturity they can capture. At night, beneath the naked moon, they land on the illuminated window, dying to get inside, to chase the light and hold it. They do not move but they wait, all of them on the glass like cracks, their long fragile frames pricked up and eager. One makes it indoors. It bangs against the light on the wall but it cannot get to the light, only the glow, so it keeps banging itself until it is exhausted and collapses. From the tail, through my rudimentary knowledge of invertebrates, I am able to identify it as a female. She did not lay its eggs in the grass. She died in my parent’s kitchen. I watched her die chasing something impossible. The daddy longlegs outside will die soon, too; either plucked by the beak of some bird, or pushed to the earth by the cold rain that has been falling constantly for the past five days now.
    Her freckles had blossomed in summer, sustained through September and lasted into October so that, while checking the temperature of my coffee, I was able to appreciate them in a cool pale grey light that came into the restaurant from a heavy sky outside. They were clustered on the bridge of her delicate nose, and were decorated with the glitter that had loosened itself from her eye makeup. Freckles and glitter! I smiled and she swore loudly. I had already confessed how much I missed her the night before. I missed her even when she was with me, as though I craved more and more, more than she could give me, or maybe more than I could ever hope to possess, insatiable. She would not be with me forever, and although it was something I tried not to think about, I had to make the most of her presence while I could. I had become utterly infatuated. She bought a brownie and offered me some from violinist fingers. In a bankrupt train carrying American football fans up the Seven Sisters Road, she leaned against me. Her weight pushed up my thigh and my stomach, like we were in bed. The hot carriage in the hot train that rose through Bethnal Green and up to North London with a hallucinogenic sun pouring rectangles of colour on her thick overcoat and her badge that read – Save the planet, kill yourself; I held it and felt her breath skin my knuckles. I kissed her forehead. I missed her already. I put my lips on her forehead.

    The train journey to work has changed somewhat from when I took it seven years ago. One of the stations has a large housing estate built behind it on a field that was formerly used to grow cabbages, and cauliflower before that (demand fell). The houses are lined up very politely. The golden curtains are drawn at night. More land is dedicated to golf courses than housing in England; I think about that and watch the rainwater trickle in through cracks in the carriage. All that space. I attempt to get a measure of it. All that land: no comfortable sofas, no television sets, no fucking nor love-making, no pregnancies or lemsip, no people cooking dinner for one another or watching films on sleepy Sunday afternoons before indulging in a roast that has stunk out the whole downstairs; no, just obese men sauntering round, dribbling the final dregs of their competitiveness out while discussing work and holding a minute’s silence in some ode to the swing of steel. The houses are already a mile away, the young children in bed.
    It was brisk. A little boy was running around the pub tables, being chased by his father while his mother held court, discussing a recipe for the best rendang she had ever tasted. It was this young family and that young family and all of them immaculate. While it was still light we had walked around the London Fields, but now we were a few pints down as Super Sunday ended and the lads finished the bottom of their glasses. Lower a red lamp, we warmed each other up. Rain fell in short bursts, was tumbled by the wind, and the cold blue night like an abyss. She draped her tight’d thigh over me, and I could not draw my hand from the large muscles she kept there neath a tattoo of her dog. She had her fingers in my hair, her nails rippling over follicles and pressing into my stretched flesh. I did not ever want to leave, to call last orders on the occasion. I did not ever want the night to end; I did not want Monday morning or aeroplane flights, did not want the ring of the bell. I suppose it is the end of things that makes them especial. Small sips. ‘I could get another round in… sit here all night.’ We did not. Did I know it had to end, or did I say it in the same tone as telling her I missed her already, to announce the universally irrelevant and the infinitely truthful? We went back to the home we had made effortlessly in the tenancy I paid for monthly. We ordered pizza and watched a film. Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days ago.
    At the end of the train platform there are a series of advertisements: a crime thriller by a bestselling author, mortgages you have a good chance of securing, an online estate agent, a travel company. There is an advertisement for a missing persons charity between them. The photograph is of a fifteen-year-old boy. He has been missing for thirty years. He was over five-thousand-four-hundred-and-seventy-five days old when he disappeared. For two-thirds of his existence, he has not existed. He is handsome, typically handsome, with blonde hair and a strong jaw, squint-eyed smiling in the family snapshot they took, never knowing or believing at the time how it would be used in thirty years. Every night – should the train pull in to platform four – he stares at me. I feel an obligation to seize things, to seize my life, to seize anything! He would have had a family by now, he would be an expert in tucking his children into bed and maybe a house in that new estate I passed half an hour ago. His gaze causes me to lower my own to the rain-soaked asphalt. A young man in front of me is reunited with his lover beyond the ticket gate; they run toward each other and embrace, bumping exclamations of joy into oncoming kisses. I pull the mask off my face, take a long breath of air and cast a look to the taxi rank as I walk back to my parents’ house.

Amongst joy’s division, I would wait, dreaming of autumn & of her.
Journal, October 2019.

Mark