I think I've mentioned him to you before, one night a little while back; the night we were caught in the thunderstorm. We were tired, and miserable, and damp. I wanted to tell you — needed to tell you — but I wasn't sure what to say. Back then, I didn't know what was going on, and neither did he. Nothing was obvious so neither were my words. Instead, it tumbled out, a muddle of nouns and ellipses with no real verbs.
We met in Foyles, on the Charing Cross Road. Wherever I went, there he was. It was almost as if we were pieces on a chess board — him black, me white — being moved in corresponding patterns. Black King to new fiction; White Queen to North African history; Black King to cookery. We kept finding each other. As we both reached for the same illustrated copy of Prince Caspian, we couldn't politely ignore each other any longer: we said hello. Checkmate.
We went for coffee upstairs in Foyles. Have I taken you there before? If not, we should probably go. Actually, I didn't drink coffee, it was too late in the day for me. I drank Jasmine tea. We talked. We talked about books. And then about identity. And then about humour. We talked until closing time.
But there was still more to say, so we met again. There was always still more to say. So coffee, or hot chocolate, or afternoon tea became a bottle of wine, or cocktails, or a gin and tonic after work. Which became dinner, and then, one day, bed.
If it had been bed just the once, we might've somehow managed to explain it away, to pass it off, to let it go and move on. But it wasn't; it hasn't been. It has been some inexorable march deeper into something we're struggling to understand. Not understanding it, I suppose, is why we don't talk about it. There are too many variables, too much uncertainity. How can we find the words to articulate this love affair based on a conflict of cultures when it doesn't make sense to either of us? Where would we start?
Or maybe we've not told anyone because that would involve admitting to ourselves that it is real and that it is not some daydream, or illusion, or figment of our over-active imaginations. Then, we would be forced to reconcile that for each other, we both come from the wrong side of the tracks. Unreality makes it bearable.
I know, I know; there was always going to be a point where worlds collided and reality perhaps became unbearable. I wasn't expecting it to be 18:17 at King's Cross station on Thursday evening, though. But I'm telling you now.
This is one of my better efforts, I suppose.