We Were Alone


Posted by in June's Magazine

Katy Nixon’s Short Story

At the top of Arthur’s Seat one Sunday Amy and Charlie stood together, hand in hand, staring out across Holyrood park. The sky was uneasy with huge clouds, rippling muscle, which blocked the sun behind them as it tried to break through. 

Neither of them spoke. That morning they had argued about Amy going away to stay with friends in London. His jealousy had infuriated her. She had turned her back to him in bed, raging at the limitations on her freedom the relationship seemed to bring. It hadn’t always been like that. Or maybe he just hid his insecurities better then. 

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Standing there in the cold for the first time Amy was suddenly aware of this separate plane that she existed in, something that he could never see. Even if she had tried she could not have explained to him her internal dialogue. It had felt like there had been no lines between them before, their conversations had bled into each other, words binding them like books. Their bodies had gravitated together even in the nightly separation of sleep. Everything she saw seemed pointless unless she could share it with his view too. 

While he stared out across the city, Amy looked at Charlie, at his beautiful face that she knew by heart and wondered if the colours that he thought in were the same as hers. They stood for another few minutes, no idea of the worlds that existed behind the other’s eyes, wishing the view was an antidote and then walked home, together, but completely alone.

In the beginning it had felt good to need him, even better to be needed by him. It turned her on. No one had ever looked at her like she could save them before. They had grown trust like the well-nurtured plants that lived on their windowsill. She had invested all of her energy into learning who he was, understanding why she had found him like a closed fist. Slowly she had smoothed out his hands, over time she could hold them, their fingers entwined. 

A year before, the first night in their flat together, she had pinned him to the bed laughing believing that everything would always be that way. She hadn’t realised that in the months and then the two years she had been with Charlie she had traded in a part of herself. It crept up on her. 

She hadn’t realised that in the months and then years she had been with Charlie she had traded in a part of herself

Her paintbrushes became unused. She stopped seeing her friends. She became all encompassed in her love for him. Their nights were spent together smoking and listening to music and talking and talking about a future they wanted to share. 

When they got home after their walk Amy felt restless and searched the flat for something of her old self, her dreams had become displaced and lost somewhere like desperate hope on a bet. She was enjoying the solitude of her mind of being somewhere that Charlie could not go. Somewhere that was just hers. 

Her hands sought out the oil bars that hid in cloth in the cupboard in their hall. She pulled out long abandoned canvases and placed them all around the living room. Amy felt irritated when she could feel him watching her from the doorway, uncertain if there was still room for him. She put her headphones on. 

His hurt bled out onto the cold wooden floors and she felt merciless. Amy stood with her back to him, facing the huge painting she had made for his birthday the year before. The colours blurred as she tipped her head back trying to send the tears on her face back to their source. Her hands covered in the pink of cherry blossom swept carefully across the canvas, she lost herself deliberately.

That night Charlie tried to find her. She knew he was awake when she pretended to sleep. She felt his heart beat out unsure sentences he wanted to say; too scared to hear the answers, he lay quietly beside her. His hand took hers; he buried his head in her neck. 

Amy wondered why love was not enough. 

Charlie played the memory of her the first night in their flat on repeat. 

Her hair had covered his face from above, holding his hands above his head, in that moment he had wanted to give her everything he was. But that night she left the room in her mind to a future that didn’t contain him. 

Their bodies clung onto each other like drowning children.

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