Short fiction

Plums

An intervention on William Carlos William’s poem This is Just to Say.

*

And so I left my fourth message for the day on his voicemail, and it wasn’t even nine yet.

Mr Williams, my voice would say, if he chanced to listen, I don’t care about the plums.

I don’t care about breakfast.

I care about you.

And he of course, would not reply. He never once told me where he was going in the morning. He would disappear in the early hours, taking with him only what he came with, and leaving yet another little note and an odd sense of abandonment. From him, abandonment smelt faintly like Christian Dior.

I would be less worried, I think, if these comings and goings from my abode began in a more normal manner, usually shared with friends. A phone call before, perhaps would be nice. Or even forgoing that, a regular hour of arrival. Not three in the morning, soaking wet and clutching a large, inflatable yellow dinosaur.

He was always polite, forever charming, continuously sanguine. He would carefully place himself on the couch, gently resting his backpack against the leather, and sit straight; the posture of a good English schoolboy. He mainly sat in silence, accepting whatever clothing or foodstuffs I thrust at him, with a hint of a smile dancing at the corner of his mouth.

And in the morning he would be gone again, blankets folded neatly, and stacked, cushion atop, at the end of his makeshift bed. I sometimes wondered if he realised that it would forever be his sofa, its worn brown leather accepting only his form. It had come to smell of him, Dior and rain and loveliness.

He was beautiful, mysterious and oh so frustrating. As is the way with poets, or so I can only assume – an assumption drawn jointly from this bizarre association and countless romantic films. His notes were the only keepsakes I had of our encounters – tiny letters painstakingly inscribed upon scraps of paper. His words could transform ugly pamphlets and discarded receipts into works of art. I longed for him to stay – just once, to join me for breakfast. To share something more than late night smiles and the occasional use of my bathroom facilities.

But the more sensible part of my brain said just accept it for what it is.

And so in my last message, I simply said:

There will

always be

plums

for you here.

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