An egg in its cup
Tonight, at this party, he walks towards me for the first time in our lives, his black shoes shiny on the faded green carpet. Sam Cooke sings on the stereo that he is afraid to die. I smooth my hot hands down my skirt. A cat slides against my leg, silken, a ripple.
• • •
One night Sylvia Plath met Ted Hughes. She sank her teeth into him, biting him long and hard on the cheek. He tore the red head band from her hair. Another night Romy Schneider and Alain Delon danced with each other under a chandelier, his hand spanning her waist as they spun and spun.
• • •
Our first weekend away. We are Mr and Mrs Adam Harris for two nights in the Brighton Seaview Hotel. He sits up, leaning against the wooden bedhead. He says my name spelt backwards is GEM. His is MADA.
“Madder”, he says and pulls a face, turning his eyes inward and sticking out his tongue.
Outside our room, a trolley rattles down the hallway. A woman calls to someone. I cannot hear her words.
“Spanish,” Adam tells me. “You should have seen the stains in room thirty-three!”
I smile. “Really?”
Someone twists the doorknob to our room and a woman calls, “Stop fucking! Let me clean the room!” We laugh and yell at the door. No! Never!
He says to me, “We should have stayed somewhere better.”
He smacks the bedside table for his cigarettes and lighter and his fringe falls into his eyes.
“Here,” I say. “Here is wonderful.”
He lights a cigarette, then reaches for me with both arms.
• • •
At the party he hands me a glass of white wine.
“Would you prefer champagne?” he says.
“Yes. But I am realistic.”
His laugh scrapes along the pit of my stomach and the inside of my thighs, over and over. The room slows down. It sways. He clinks his glass against mine. The wallpaper here is gold imprinted with silver heather. That grass moves backwards and forwards with a breeze. The field shines behind him.
• • •
The crack of his knife against an egg in its cup is deafening. I crunch into my toast and it could be glass. The silver morning light gilds us, through our dirty kitchen window, through the lace curtain, to our washed skin, washed hair, our pressed clothes. Acid rises into my throat and I go to the sink.
“Oh, Meg. Honey. Is it the egg?”
I grip the cold metal and take one deep breath. His hand on the back of my neck is icy and wet from the tap.
“Are you going to be okay to do this today?” Adam says.
“Yes. Yes. Yes.”
He leans against me and presses his face into my neck. “I do.”
• • •
At the party he draws me down into the silver and gold grass. The earth is warm and sweet smelling beneath us. The grass scratches and waves above us.
“Would you like another glass of wine?” he says.
A woman on the other side of the room laughs. She screams.
I grip his upper arm and every muscle pulses there under my hand. “Let me come with you,” I say.
The sun shines down on both of our heads. I squint.
• • •
I carry a bouquet of lilacs. He stole them from outside the church at the end of our street. Their stems are hard in my hands. Their cut ends smell green and new. I will put them in water when we get back to our flat after the registry office, after the Chinese restaurant, after I vomit in the gutter. I will smell the lilacs, over and over. I will press some petals inside “The Bell Jar” and they will turn into confetti.