OK GOMaria sat picking the at scarlet rims clinging to her cuticles, trying to remove the stubborn scraps of red with force. The words Ted was saying were washing over her, mingling with the sound of the jukebox, the high hats esses obscuring the sounds and rendering his mouth a silent pink circle, making secret smoke rings, shaping empty threats.
'I think we've come to the end of the road, I just can't get through to you anymore.' he blared as the song ended. Two men at the bar turned around to look, as their glassy eyes met they shared a second of resigned recognition.
Suddenly, they all became aware, for just a moment, of the huge, intractable play in which they were involved. They had all been Maria, all been Ted, all been the guys at the bar. The words, the song, the venue, all interchangeable; just another production, another director's interpretation of the same story of love, loss, anomie.
Ted was patting his pockets. Searching for cigarettes, he was consumed with hatred. Every pore resented the pain, loathed the loss, wanted to smash the set of the pantomime up, cut the puppet strings, diminish the panic he felt at the imminent isolation.
He fantasised that he could take Maria and he to a place away from time, away from history, to a vacuum where he might be able to sense the spark beyond words and just transmit the significance of his feelings to her. He pictured them in the blackness of space, naked, surrounded by stars, foreheads pressed together.
Maria felt the wounds of this disaster shallowly, like an acid burn numbed with ice. The familiarity of the scenario detached her from the emotional sensations Ted was trying to provoke, and she watched alienated from the violent outpouring as if from above. Mentally she zoomed in on her lip gloss, she focused on the label, the large printed e, the net weight and touched the stickiness of the peeling edge of the holographic sticker, that seemed to her to represent glamour, impermanence, destruction, mortality.
'Don't waste my fucking time'.
Maria looked at Ted for the last time. She wanted to take in all the details of him, absorb his memory. Pale eyes, damp and defeated. Gold lashes. Cheeks red from the heat in the bar. Curly hair, golden curls, like a character in a fantasy film. She inhaled, smelling his breath. Beer and tooth decay.
She stood, and smoothed down her skirt. Still staring, she pulled open the heavy door of the pub and walked out into the rain.