The idea of being around anyone this year was just too much for me to take. I usually love Christmas, I actually look forward to it, but not this year. As I was walking on to the boat I managed to take one last look back at the chimneys, lined up and smoking, like a row of people outside a pub.
The air was cold and it made me grab for my collar, drawing it closer to my neck. My breath disappeared in front of me, blending in with the grey colour of the sea and I knew that it would just be me from now on. Of course, it wouldn’t be for a while until anyone else knew I was gone. I mean, it’s not what you’d expect on Christmas Day.
All you’re ever told is to spare a thought for those who are on their own at Christmas. Speak to them, share with them, open up to them, let them be part of your life even if it’s just for one day. The world’s a terrible place when you’re on your own, it’s so cold, so bitter, so slow. But, all of that’s just fine with me right now.
The world can be a terrible place when there’s people in it too. After all, it’s only people that cause wars, disease, and violence. You name it, there’s not much badness in the world that isn’t caused by a person at some point. And, without people there wouldn’t be love. I suppose you can love things, like I love this boat, like I love the sea, like I love mornings, custard creams and Coldplay. But that’s not real love, not the sort of love that happens in a moment when you look into someone else’s eyes and disappear.
When you’re into that kind of love then there’s no helping you. You’re out there on your own, no net or safety wire, just you. It’s a void where nothing else exists, an emptiness which allows you to float by the power of your own light. A light which grows in intensity until it fills your soul and you become a beacon to any other hopeless case. That’s the sort of love which you risk catching when you talk to people. It’s rare, and I suppose I’d have to be unlucky to catch it while I was sitting around my mum and dad’s house for Christmas lunch, but there’s still a chance.
The problem’s start happening when the love’s taken away. You don’t have any control over it when that happens and you’re expected to just get on with life, but how can you see where you’re going without the light? That was who you were, that was the whole point of you but then you see her naked body coiled up with a restauranteur.
I kept walking on to the boat. A thousand images still flashing into my thoughts and everyone of them’s a dagger in my back. I cast off from the quayside and cruise my way out of the harbour and into the vast greyness of the ocean. There’s no lights out here on Christmas Day, there’s no caring people who want to make me feel better or memories evoked from everything I see, just grey water.
Fourteen years is a long time. I went to school with her and we were friends before we were lovers. I know everything about her and she about me. Who am I ever going to turn to now if I suffer from amnesia? I know what makes her laugh and which things make her cry, I even know how to make her do both at the same time. But one thing I didn’t know was how much she liked that bloody restaurant because if I had then I wouldn’t have taken her there last year for her birthday.
This boat has always been good to me. It’s provided me with a living, it’s been a shelter when I’ve not been able to get home, a sanctuary when I’ve needed a place to hide. Out here in the misty grey water nothing seems real. The sounds disappear as quickly as your breath and the fog makes it hard to see where the sea ends and the sky begins. I’m just floating.
Who would know if I just never came back? It would be easy out here to just disappear, like the light which has been so cruelly taken from me. Nothing seems real. Nothing seems real, but I can feel my heart beating. It’s thumping against the inside of my coat, keeping me alive and reminding me of something which I’ve forgotten. I don’t know what it is but the thought alone is something real, and it’s making me feel better.
Perhaps I could go back, perhaps I could try and go through the motions at least. I’ll have to go back so that I can try and remember what it is that I’ve forgotten. I’m heading back now, back home, with my face pressed against the icy wind and the tears freezing on to my cheeks. Only I’ll know where I’ve been but that’s the only person who ever knows. We’re all sailing through the grey mist in one way or another… just close your eyes.