THE LONGING


My life so far can be divided into chapters of longing. Longing for attention, for safety, for being wanted, for babies, for knowing something that cannot ever be known, like what will happen? Will I do the thing I mean to do? Will we be ok?


I now see my longing as an object. It is a thing I stow away in the top drawer of my bureau – the one with all of the trinkets in tangles – the mismatched earrings, my grandfather’s mother-of-pearl cufflinks, the rusted key to a lock I have lost.


Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I open the drawer and pull out the longing. I eye my reflection in the mirror as I clasp it round my neck. I look better with longing on – it becomes me, it is like the musk I used to wear, which is a perfume, but not a perfume – more of a warm damp sweet that hangs heavily, hungrily in the air. Longing makes my cheeks flush, puts a darting worry in my eye. Everything foolish I have ever done, I have done with longing round my neck – it dangles dangerous, stupid, elicit. It clings to my clavicle, catches the light and shimmers in hectic flecks.


But I am beginning to see that longing is a cheap souvenir, a knick-knack, a charm to put on. I can pry the clasp open and let it slide from my neck into my palm. I can open the velvet-lined drawer, and toss the longing back in with the rest of the junk I keep, but do not need.


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