Greater Vestibular Gland & Duct

The word of the day is vestibule. Of the week, of the year. Vestibule. It is a word one of a certain upbringing may associate with the church, musty and dark, leaning towards, dim, a doorway into light. It drags its tail along the tongue. How many days has the word been lodged in my mind? where did it spring from, and what drives it to pester me so? It occurs to me as Attenborough would pronounce it, although I am not sure it was he who ever did so. Over & over, I say the word to myself, when I am on the train, when I am in the shower, when I take a cigarette break at work. It is not tied to sunshine nor terror; it is repeated apropos of whatever I might be feeling at the time. Vestibule. I slaver over the -bule and squint when I gaze at the sunset.

‘She was the gold standard – despite how it ended… When we were together… She was the gold standard and has come to define everything I look for in a relationship: how happy She made me, how comfortable I felt, how easily the conversation flowed, the sexual chemistry, the laughter and jokes, never getting bored or irritated by Her, everything just grew stronger and stronger. I never looked at or thought about anyone else. There was only Her. I would have done anything for Her… And, yeah, maybe it was built on bullshit, but those six months or so were a dream.’

If spring is here, who can tell whether the windows are open? By evening, the wind scarpers and all one is left with is a soundtrack from the streets outside. The smallest noise is audible when in bed. I keep a list of things that, despite my willingness, cannot be done due to a certain state of mind: chess, writing, painting. The latter most certainly. If I languish in a terrible mood and wish solely to put brush to canvas, then my mood prevents, for I know that any error will spiral me into a fit of rage! My temperament over such things has not matured – nor evolved – since I was nine, where I would frown upon the stairs, drive an HB into my comic books and gasp for air, so overwhelmed was I that I found it hard to breathe. My mother would shake her head—‘You’re going to regret ruining your comics!’

‘I wrote to her later, a year later – she never responded, of course – but I wrote to her that maybe, if I was lucky, I would meet someone I liked as much as her, but I would never meet anyone like her.’ I paused. A habit had developed whereby I spoke quietly in my flat—‘But that shit’s history now, innit, and she doesn’t give a fuck… so fuckit.’

The south bank was full of couples. There were many holidaying families, children on their last legs, parents bearing the weight, backpacks that smell of pine; but most of all, even to the lackadaisical eye, it was full of couples. Our thick river tumesced between the awkward teeth of brown rocks. Yes, I loved London then. No lover can avoid its capillaries should they remind one of an ex; no! persevere! I say! It was beautiful. The couple sat on benches in the shape of teepees. Joggers panted past like fucking; the sun glowed a downwards path; food vans exhaled deliciously; the unmasked and released fraternised in bars, called out to their friends—‘yah, yah’, pints of craft beer in plastic cups when six o’clock came.

I think I have been alone since age eleven. From old diary entries, I can ascertain that I found it wholly unpleasant. If someone was to gift me loneliness, I would have spat in their eye, but forced, with no other option, it is intriguing to witness what one can acclimatise to. There is a documentary about the extremes of the human body’s adaption to endure. A woman in the midlands, suffering from untold traumas, survived exclusively on Monster Munch. Every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner she ate only Monster Munch. Her skin was pallid, hair thin, her nails broke easily but she needed no more nor less to exist thanMonster Munch. It was the worst advertisement ever, and I could not turn away. I often think of her and wonder how she is doing.

‘Do it, do it,’ she gasped—‘I’m on the pill.’ It was true. I had seen her blisters in the bathroom. The days ran in a circle, did not quite run as I expected them to. Which day is it? Was it too much to expect she take each in front of me? It might be awkward. Her breasts hung down with her jewellery and both swayed like a cheering video game crowd. ‘I think the pill is incredible,’ I had told her. If I ever had the chance to hold one in my palm, I would move it around as though I expected fireworks, red carpet, would move it around as though it was the least I could do. My soup fell down veins as I softened and she kissed my throat.

Still, the word rattles around: Vestibule. On the train home, I fall asleep, springtired, clasping a tissue drying slowly in my grasp. Allergies are excited, which is how I know the season is changed. The train will continue to where my parents sleep, and that is a modicum of company, but they do not wait for its arrival. The P.A. announces an order of stations and it is a trail of calm.

The colour of the beercans is that of new shoots. A shop next to the train station sells it in packs of four. I used to buy it in east London, but back then I was happier because I was falling in love. For the first time in over two years, I bought a fourpack on my way back from work, as under the weather as I felt, and took that first cold sip out the hot shower. It is a bank holiday weekend, so late nights will be forgiven. The cans go into recycling. They will be made into someth