When we got home we found six tadpoles had died. Cooked in their tank. You cooked squid and offered me a piece which I ate, thinking all the time of the tadpoles’ grey, jellied bodies, upside down on a layer of slime.

 

We have sex and talk about regret. I regret I didn’t take more class A drugs. You regret you didn’t have sex with more people. I clean the windows to achieve a better clarity of light.

 

Everyone’s either bigger or smaller in real life. At the beach we watched Javier Badem rise up out the water like a flabby, out-of-work Poseidon. His arms were covered in fish tattoos. Then, as we left, Dennis Hopper rode past. An emaciated frame, off the top of which hung stringy pale hair. A life dedicated to retro bicycles. In twenty years the ocean will be so acidic only jellyfish will be able to live in it. All the movie stars we love today will be dead.

 

After a while it seems like everyone is dying. Even the kids, although they show no signs of decline.

 

Your mother on the other hand, is taking forever to die. She lies in her bed at your sister’s house, oxygen pumped through a tube in her nose. Another plastic tube takes urine out. One of the kids pretends the plastic bag is full of juice. An atheist all her life, your mother now tells you you’re a sinner, for leaving the faith. She asks which Greek political party won’t allow umbrellas.

 

Imagine a world without blame. I can’t.

 

Geoff came into the office with answers for me. No questions, but a nicely typed series of answers on a single piece of paper he had folded in his shirt pocket. He wore new pants that he’d bought with his laureate money. ‘Do you really like them?’ he said. ‘My mother thinks they’re too young for me.’ He pointed out where he’d had his sleeves patched at the elbows. ‘Humanity’s a disgrace,’ he said. ‘Did you know they send all the Wellington mail to Palmerston North to sort it? Then they send it back again.’

 

I blame you for buying the tadpoles. I blame the kids for not moving the tadpole tank out of the sun. A family is for having someone to blame other than your self.

 

It seems that I’ve fallen into some sort of ditch. A fizzy soda warps my thoughts and every morning I cough up my lungs. I can’t complain, and yet I still do.

 

The milk has a fishy taste.

 

And yet you still love me.

 

And yet I still love you.

Advertisements