After the after-party party

“Oh!”, she exclaimed, “we won’t be able to fit Rufus in. I have to pick up this other thing too and it will take all the room in the back’.

I turn from looking at the thing we had come to get – something like a washboard but not – and reply, “It’s OK, he can sit in the footwell with me”.

“No, no”, she adds, “I’m sure we can work it out”.

She is giving me a lift home. We are in a furniture restorers or carpenters place or something like that. F is not here. He is somewhere else. I’m not sure where. I don’t like him not being here. He should be here. I am uncomfortable with him not being here. It is the following day. The following day after the party or exhibition and after the after-party party or after-exhibition party at her house.

We had walked to her house from the party or exhibition. F had been there but not for the after-something party. It is disconcerting. I am not questioning why I cannot walk back home.

My worry about Rufus and whether he will fit into the car changes it all. I wouldn’t call it a nightmare – just a bad dream.

I wake up.

The TV is on. But it is silent – the sound turned right down. F is not there. I shout ‘Babe’ and he replies. “Are you OK?”, I ask. Yes, apparently he is. Except he’s not really as it’s almost 3 a.m. and he’s not asleep.

I can’t shake this dream even if the remembering of it is difficult. It has left me with a certain disquiet but for what, I can’t be sure. I get up and go to join him in the kitchen. I am really tired but know I have to get it all out of my head. Look at it logically – not that it was really logical – I know that much.

I grab a glass of milk and a cigarette. I ask him why he is up. He says he doesn’t know but he just can’t sleep. It’s not me or the dogs. He is playing ‘the game’ as we call it. He says that maybe it will help. I doubt it but say nothing.

I go back to bed. In the morning, when the alarm goes off, I put it to snooze and snuggle up to him. He got to sleep then, eventually.

I’m not even sure how the bad dream started. Something about a party or an exhibition. Rufus only appeared the following morning. It wasn’t Milan – nor anywhere I know. But it was similar to Hay-on-Wye. A group of us decided to go to the after party. I knew the people although, with the exception of F (who was never there but always just outside the picture) and one other, I can identify none of them. We walked up the hill. Maybe through fields. It was very late. F knew I was going and would join us later. We arrived with the girl whose house it was and who was giving me the lift back home on the following day. We started the party. Nothing really happened. More people came. It was nice. I worried about F not having arrived. I don’t know if I texted or tried to call but I think I did. I was worried anyway and really wanted him to be here.

Then V arrived. It wasn’t altogether unexpected. I mean, for some reason, I knew he was coming or, rather, might come. Somehow, he managed to avoid turning towards me. He was, as FfC and I say, ‘being fabulous’ as V does. But, still he wouldn’t look at me. I saw him across the room (with his back to me), taking off his jacket and talking to the woman. And laughing as he does. I was disappointed that he wouldn’t at least acknowledge I was there but other than that I didn’t really care.

He must have stayed for a bit and then he left, never once showing me his face. And then it was the next morning. And F wasn’t there. And, for some equally strange reason, I had Rufus (although not as thin as he is now) and we had to get home. And we were stopping on the way to pick up these things that the woman had to get. And then I woke up.