My friends are on air.
Sometimes they kind of taunt me with the fact. I anticipate that they slither forward in what they call ‘secure roles’ with the snap of a suede shoe and their cool crisp breath, ready for cue. I reach out to them sometimes, and they are there, either ‘on air’ or ‘online’ – a little green light or a confirmatory crackle in a pair of earphones.
I feel the air through my sticky fingers.
Sometimes my mouth moulds back a response sometimes it does not . Ah, the bittersweetness of friends on air – the lack of pressure for a response. I told Paul, a long-term presence and arts correspondent that I was really quite fond of him once. He said that it was a tragedy that libraries were closing at a faster rate than ever before.
I liked the spontaneity – friends on the air, walking the way home no need to bother about accidentally brushing hands or the hot deep pulse of the pining body. For I have been known to want for too much.
Of course I am not innocent. I have changed friends on air like a string of lovers, slid under the covers listening to one and then the other. I am inconsistent, inconsiderate and ultimately unwatched by these friends on air. Yet they are still there.
They carry on even when the things within me attempt to stop, or the mechanism moving my head unhinges and I throw up, or laugh, or bury myself into the pillows with that unbearable snorting laugh which seems the only alternative to tears.
Even at 3 am where the night quivers in its uncertainty of approaching morning, someone will be stoic, trudging with determined words like boots marching through mud Almost militarily organised, these friends – with announcements every hour, the drill of pips before ‘the news’.
I don’t speak in case I miss something.
Yet I’ve been missing for years.