Sat outside drinking coffee, we watch the air from our mouths dance with the steam rising from the cups we clench within frostbitten fingers. The fingers on my right hand have gone numb, so I press them against the coffee cup as hard as I can. The sky is bright. January is a dead month, but there are thin streaks of light if you look hard enough. An old lady hunched over as if in pain inspects the display in a clothes store, and a group of kids with down syndrome sit behind a table selling bits and bobs to raise money for charity. One of them has earmuffs on, and he claps whenever someone buys something. I always wanted a pair of earmuffs as a kid. Put them on my Christmas list and everything. Didn’t get any, though, which I’m thankful for because, in hindsight, I would’ve looked like the biggest twat going. Smoking a cigarette across from me, she giggles and coos at the sight of a tiny dog on a leash, as do I. Then along comes another, even tinier dog. Her giggles become higher-pitched, and my smile widens from ear to ear. The even tinier dog is wearing a jumper, but still, it shivers; its little feet dancing on the concrete as if to some tune neither of us but it can hear. The spot on which we speak and smoke has existed for centuries in some form or other. It’s the same town but filled with new stories—our bodies the silhouettes of those who were dead and gone before we were born. Eyeing me as I eye her, the day plays out against a soundtrack of secret thoughts—our minds guided by the spaces created by an absence of words.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

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