What is Thicker than Water?
by Ava MacPherson
You have stopped listening to music on the tram and stopped trying to ask for a raise at work. Your mother rings you and tells you that she is leaving your father, before she hangs up the phone she says ‘you’re not like him you know sweetheart’. Your father is made up of pie, mash and gravy, brandy but only at Christmas and conversations in coffee shops that follow the lines of ‘what the fuck is an Americano? I just want a black coffee!’ You are made up of kebabs after a Friday night out with the boys, the occasional protein bar, two litres of water a day and reruns of Friends. You are tall and harmless and find yourself on one particular warm evening speaking to a girl at a bar who you can’t make out clearly in the dark, she shouts to you across the mismatch and mess of jazz music that you don’t seem like any other man that she has met here before and you reach for the bowl of complimentary pistachios, embarrassed. You nod politely and say how flattered you are and eat more pistachios until a thick film of smashed nuts cover your tongue and you find it difficult to speak. She says ‘god someone loves nuts don’t they!’ and winks at you and you feel your stomach tying itself into a knot.
You make an excuse to leave, you’ve had one too many pints, time is escaping you and the cat needs to be fed. Her eyes follow you and she gives you a pitying look. She does not deserve your secrets and you are too embarrassed to show her the stoic stuff that accompanies the kebabs after a Friday night out with the boys. You accidentally find yourself ringing your ex-girlfriend on the bus home, you broke up with her six months ago and you still didn’t understand why you had done it. Your friends thought you were crazy for doing it and your dad had called you a stupid selfish prick.
Your father is made up of pie, mash and gravy, brandy but only at Christmas.
You had never experienced a truer being than her, and when you lived together she would get excited about what food you wanted for dinner, you would arrive home and be met with smells of fresh coriander and chilli and she would beam up at you, hopeful and lovely, pushing spoonfuls of curry into your mouth and saying ‘is it too spicy? Shall I grate some cheese? How was your day? I’ve missed you.’ You absolutely knew more than anything that she had missed you, and that she wanted to crawl up in the space that you created and take a nap. She took the advice of ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’ very seriously and would try to make extravagant meals, if she didn’t cook, she would order expensive take aways, laying each item out like Christmas presents, after, she would find her way to you on the sofa and sigh comfortably while whispering ‘god I fucking love you’.
She took up so much space in your mind, you couldn’t stand it, and when she didn’t pick up the phone the first time, you rang again. She answered, and said ‘Hey, it’s one in the morning, is everything okay?’
Her voice was like a glass of fresh water and you had been thirsty for months. You found yourself crying on the bus home and she said again, ‘Look tell me now, what’s the matter? What’s wrong?’
‘I don’t want to be him’ you whispered, choking back the tears.
She was silent for a moment, chewing over what you had just said, and answered ‘you were never like him, and you aren’t now either’.