I, of course, get the round in. We’re in the Magician’s Shoehorn; neutral territory.
W looks at me across the beer sticky table. Sadness? Pleading? I can’t quite read his expression. I set the drinks down.
‘So?’ W asks. He is irritatingly attractive. Seeing him makes me want to jump back in but at the same time I’d like to run out of the pub.
‘I do miss you,’ I say.
W sighs. Just the noise of his breath aggravates me.
‘But?’ He keeps letting sentences hang. I want to correct every word he utters.
‘That doesn’t mean you don’t drive me mad.’ I tell him.
'I was always going to be a challenge.' He laughs in that way he does, where I never know if he’s laughing with or at me. ‘I’m yours if you want me,’ he says.
I take a sip of beer. ‘I don’t know what I want at the moment.’
'What are you telling people?’ W asks.
‘That we’re having a break.’
He nods calmly.
I want more of a reaction, so I carry on. ‘And that I’m more into the visual arts at the moment.’
W slams his drink down. ‘That’s what you're calling it? Visual-bloody-arts!’
‘They do say a picture can paint a thousand words.’
W smiles unpleasantly. ‘Have you seen your drawing?’
‘Are you saying you’re any better?’
‘No…yes. Yes, I am. I’m as good as you’ll let me be. You’ve just got no tenacity.’
I groan. ‘This is exactly why we shouldn’t carry on.’
W pushes his chair back. ‘I could walk out of this pub and never see you again. Just birthday and Christmas cards.’ He stands up.
‘No, no, I don’t want that, please. I do love you, I’m confused. I think I need a bit of space.'
W sighs again. This time I’m less irritated. He sits back down heavily. ‘I suppose we’ve been very intense.’
‘You could say so,’ I agree.
‘It’s been all-consuming,’ he says.
‘And occasionally suffocating,’ I say.
W smiles at me. ‘We could go back to just Tuesday nights, like the old days. We could make it fun again.’
‘And maybe Sunday afternoons?’
‘And possibly Friday nights… if you’re not doing anything else.’ W reads my face, ‘or possibly not.’
‘Shall we try Tuesdays?’
W reaches across the table and takes my writing hand in his. I feel myself melting. ‘The main thing,’ he says, ‘is that we remain friends.’