“Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
‘You put together two people who have not been put together before. Sometimes it is like that first attempt to harness a hydrogen balloon to a fire balloon; do you prefer crash and burn or burn and crash? But sometimes it works,and something new is made, and the world is changed. Then, at some point, sooner or later, for this reason or that, one of them is taken away. And what is taken away is greater than the sum of what was there. This may not be mathematically possible; but it is emotionally possible.’
-Levels of Life. Julian Barnes.
We once had a car that got stolen from our house. The breaker-inners had loaded up all the loot from our house, the usual apple apparel. And used our car to carry it all off- they were efficient breaker-inners these ones. I loved that car and I never saw it again, so we had to go and buy a new one with the pittance the insurance gave us.
James had many pet names for me but my personal favourite was: ‘Odharna- lead foot- Anderson’- due to my persuasion for dropping my foot on the accelerator. I was presented with my new name, officially, when earning 6 points on my licence in one day. When it came to getting this car replaced, I was never allowed to attend the test drives; James had decided to buy a car behind my back with a smaller engine, in some, vaguely ironic effort to curb my enthusiasm and preserve my life.
In the early days of dating he would do his nut if I was late back and hadn’t called as in the absence he had convinced himself that something terrible had happened to me. It’s all a bit ironic really now. But I always knew this would somehow land on my doorstep. I knew, not long after getting together that trouble might be on his way. I knew that my time with James was limited, I’ve always known this but I don’t know how or if it ever really even materialised into a concrete thought up for inspection.
I spoke to a friend who lost her child and she had this same feeling also. In Withering Heights Nelly tells someone, maybe Lockwood:”She was a wild slip of a lass that burned too brightly for this world” and it’s a bit like that, the feeling you get. You try to ignore it but it’s there. I think I always knew the day was coming.
I’m buying a new car, and wonder if, given the choice or freedom to choose, if I will revert back to my old ways or what James would have wanted me to do/drive? What I must now do is realise that James was right, because of what our children have had happen to them, nothing can happen to me now. There is an immense pathological desire to stay safe, a pressure to be a healthy and alive part of a pair; because of our children and what would be left; less than zero. This may not be mathematically possible but it is emotionally possible.
For Tom Vaughan.