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Chloe Extracts Novel

A Kiss

Lunsford is at home with his memories of his wife Chloé. He has been forced by circumstances beyond his control to face up to the fact that she is gone. He has to go into the room in the house that they loved the most when she was alive.

 

“If you need to explain it, it’s not really music is it? It’s more like an exam”, he’d said to Chloé after she had tried and failed to steer him through A Love Supreme or Brilliant Corners.

She had sighed and stroked his face with the back of her hand because she loved him. After many years of marriage there were many things that each of them realised they did not love about each other, and they were thankful for that. Their house and their life together were settled but not stultifying, small shards of emotional grit still made it into their loving shell. After the first five years of living in wedded collusion it became clear that certain understandings had been assumed that did not stand up to the simple complexities of every day life.

Struggle and skirmish took over from early and unalloyed romantic love. These skirmishes were played out in the bloody theatres of cleaning the house, choosing a record to listen to, getting a dog or not getting a dog, the colour of the bedroom walls, toothpaste tube squeezing. Finally, they argued about kissing: too hard or too wet or too short or too long was just not good enough. This revelation was shocking as both of them had convinced themselves that their kiss was the sure proof of their immediate and eternal connection. This lead to all kinds of self-consciousness, anger, doubt, shame, further clumsy exchanges, despair and hope. All silent. All internal. Chloé discussed it with Mick’s wife Jean. Lunsford discussed it with no one.

For a while as they went about life hour by hour and day by day until it seemed as if they would just have to settle for dry, limited touch. Then, one night looking into the Water Meadows from their sofa breathing in the late summer evening air, after a long day doing not very much by the river, and after months and months of not wanting to lose each other, they kissed. It was the reminder of the small perfection that had been their coupling and it happened as the sun came down. It wasn’t a long or short kiss, it was flavoured with grass cuttings, running water, clear and cool over chalk, a small white wine, and a half-pint of beer. What followed was shock in silence as they held each other’s hands and smiled, were relieved, energised with love, and knew that they could go on.

The kiss came after negations and screaming matches had exhausted themselves. Both Chloé and Lunsford pushed and levered each other into and out of various positions, meant and performed in the hope of retrieving the meaning of themselves individually within the relationship and also of the relationship itself. After the kiss Lunsford remembered to vacuum the house and dust in the parlour without being asked (eventually he took pleasure in seeing the house clean).

Eventually Chloé remembered to at consider his responses when choosing new things for the house. Eventually they both agreed to move quietly around the other things that could have broken them. This was their marriage. Moving from moments where they thought that they’d never known each other to moments when all they wanted to know was each other.

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