You never take the cover off the car and it’s infuriating. It’s infuriating as it demonstrates to the rest of the world just how incapable of living you are, your incapability to leave the house, your inability to exist alongside others, to interact with civility. It demonstrates just how successfully you have achieved a complete sense of personal isolation.
It’s been sat exactly like that for three months now. No one walks anywhere in this city. You know that, as well as I know that, as well as our neighbours know that. It wouldn’t be half as infuriating if the impending threat of the judgement of others wasn’t so ever present. You wouldn’t know but they talk, and they don’t just talk in their own homes, or in their own cars, which are so frequently basked in persistent sunshine, and allowed to exercise their right to ride along expansive stretches of never-ending road, they talk at dinner parties, at golf courses, and in their gardens over fences that reach just the right height for faux privacy and gossip.
Privacy is a concept that skipped this part of the world. We like to pretend we don’t wish to be overlooked, that we want to get on with our own individual lives away from the prying eyes of others but you know, as well as I know, as well as they know, that actually we all need an audience. As it goes, in order to make this thing they call life, and it’s daily requirement of monotonous tasks, worth having then it must be observed by someone other than just us. There is no sense in hanging the washing so neatly, the pegs transforming from green, to blue, to red, if there is no other living soul to witness either the act or its completion. We thrive on recognition and we thrive on being noticed. Except for you. You, whom blossoms alone, with no interest in anything beyond the four walls you so regularly exist within and the notebook that sits consistently open an inch away from your poised hand.
I’ve never asked you what you’ve got to say so earnestly that you fail to open your actual mouth anymore, but I know. I know because three months and a day ago was when you last took the cover off the car, under a veil of darkness, overlooked only by a million tiny stars that shone so brightly in an ink-black world, and the curious version of myself. I stood so still and small in the window of the spare bedroom that neither of us ever venture into, that you’d never have noticed had you stared directly at the slightly parted curtain. I don’t know where you went, I’ve never had the chance to read that far, as the cover has never yet come off the car, but I know that when you got home you were heavy and you smelled strange, and although you tried your hardest the pressure of your body entering our bed nudged me out of my troubled dreams and I didn’t sleep again for the next two nights.
Two years ago we went on holiday for the last time. Three weeks on sun drenched beaches achieved through three days with your erratic driving, caused solely by my insatiable fear of aeroplanes and an obsession with their unnaturalness.
Your mannerisms when driving have never faltered in the entire time I’ve known you. A hand on the wheel, your left elbow conveniently resting in the gap of an open window, always so regardless of the weather, your mouth slightly parted, your index finger gently resting on your bottom lip. These were your calmest moments, rarely moving from the described position, the only change in your demeanour coming from the kaleidoscope of your eyes and mouth. I, ever fidgeting, would regularly change the temperature of the air con, irrelevant anyway due to your insistence on a natural breeze, would fast forward and rewind the tape player incessantly to hear my favourite songs. You claimed this wound you up, but by placing my eye to the kaleidoscope I could tell that you found elements of my childishness amusing, perhaps charming, maybe even loveable. On seeing me slump against the opposite window, always closed to provide a decent backrest, the sides of your mouth would move ever so slightly, so slightly that only someone as close as I could register, and your eyes sparkled as they travelled sideways, making them and your index finger the only parts of you that dared move in the last twenty-seven miles.
Somewhere in-between hours fourteen and nineteen on our land bound journey you abruptly stopped. It was sometime after midnight and there were no other cars on the road. You brushed my hair out of my sleeping face and gently put your jacket around my shoulders, waking me with a beckoning tone and a whisper. The door sighed as you prised it free and the land beneath your feet crunched as you approached the passenger side. You opened my door slowly and carefully; ever observant of how I so loved to repurpose its role as a convenient support. You told me to look at the stars, explained how important it was to feel as small as we really are, to appreciate the sheer magnitude of the world above and around us. I glance upwards, through half shut eyes and I see it. They are pinpoints in the sky, far too precise to be real, the light they create so specific and perfect that they must have been placed there by something so exceedingly more significant than either you or I. All of a sudden, the remoteness between the two of us doesn’t seem important. The only essentiality is that we be, and continue to be, in that particular moment. Abruptly, and without warning, you disappeared into the night and I clambered back into the passenger side, shifted your jacket over my chest like a blanket, and brushed the sand from my feet to the depths of the foot-well below.