0001 | clouds

On the plane, thirty-two thousand feet clear of the everyday, I slip my hand underneath my wife’s hand, wrap a bandage of fingers around her fingers, and tell her that I love her. Not that she hears it, for it is not audible, not spoken. There are so many moments of complacency and distraction between two people, so many demands on the individual parts of body and soul. This is the person who engages harmoniously with all of those separate components.

This seems as good a definition of love as any that I know.

I love you. How that phrase has become marred by life in all its forms. Bad literature. The tyrannies of television. The people that meet, the people that fuck, the people that part. Blighted by the corny and the horny. How very frail a phrase it is; indeed, in such poor health that I can’t bear to utter those words now, especially not now. Now, in this perfect moment.

The three window covers in front of us have been lowered. Through our window, I look out over a bank of clouds, no longer above but below us, and shiver a little at such an extraordinary reversal of the quotidian. I love you. What courage it took to give voice to those words for the first time to someone you feared you might actually feel them for. I love you. The joy and magic of speaking words that bond you so hermetically close to another, that deliver you from that thing you feel so keenly. That thing which can be phrased only once for it to contain a particular desired quality and effect; that thing which can never quite be said the same way ever again. And so it is that its repetition must bear itself out in new ways.

I pull the cover: close clouds, sky, outside; resist its obvious wonder. I think she catches me smile – here, treading the waters of reverie – and through that gesture of upturned mouth and dimpled cheek, and via this wrap of flesh around flesh, I try to say something so much louder than the dull echo of those three limp syllables.

She is smiling too. Her gaze holds mine for a second and then it sails away and falls opposite, finds the window: once more to the clouds, which pout with orange edges.

Reader Comments

  1. Julia:
    Thank you, it means a lot to have you as a reader and commenter, and much more to know that this has had any kind of effect on you.

    Chantal:
    Thank you for commenting, and very happy to know that I exist beyond 140 characters for you now! There will be more… er, 999 of them, if I’ve got my manifesto right, and the next one should be within 24 hours.

    Ian:
    Thanks for dropping in. Is ‘loft’ some kind of south-west parlance for my brain? If so, then I hope not so much a raid as a skim. If quite literally my loft, then most definitely no! I have left the writing of ten or so years ago where it was, gathering a little dust and being squeezed for space by the next bin-bag full of Tilly’s hand-me-down clothes.

  2. Matt, well done for creating your own writing space – it takes courage and commitment. I really enjoy your writing, I am so looking forward to reading more of it. It is very open, sincere and personal. A very rare find. My very best wishes for its continuing success. Silvana.

  3. What a beautiful first piece to share. I especially love the images “bandage of fingers” and “pout with organe edges”. I look forward to reading more.

  4. I just came home from the library with Alain De Botton’s “Essays in Love”.
    And than this. Really beautiful, sincere writing, can’t wait to read more.

  5. Oh Matt, your words leap off the page and give my heart a good ol’ squeeze! Lucky Mrs I.
    I may have a little cry. Damn these hormones.

  6. Silvana:
    Thank you for coming to see Fragments; it feels a lovely kind of strange to have you visiting my house when I have set foot in both of your houses so often! I’m touched that you see those things in these words, and I hope to maintain them for the following 999!

    Kelly:
    Thank you. I’m so glad those words stand out. The ‘bandage’ phrase was very much the starting point and I intended to work the metaphor into the piece more; indeed, this Fragment went under the working title of ‘Hands’ before it became ‘Clouds’. I also had no idea how to close until finding those last four words, which stopped me dead in my tracks.

    Anek:
    Hello! Thrilled to see you have followed my trail to here. I read ‘Essays In Love’ many years ago and remember being very fond of it. Thank you for visiting and hope you are back for the next one.

    Amy:
    Amy! Very touched that you came to read. And so lovely to be back in touch after all these years. Mrs I is very lucky indeed. I think she might still be trying to figure out what the metaphor behind the metaphor is (not a naturally trusting woman, Mrs I), but she tells me I am very lucky too, so in theory we should both take up gambling.

    Lisa:
    Thank you for coming here; I’d love for you come back regularly. Your gift to me a few months back was a real spur to pick up writing once more, because I remembered how wonderful it was to lose yourself in words again. The man in the picture is a young, more hirsute John Malkovich. Epson Stylus paper copies available on request.

  7. I wanted to make some kind of comment about how the Eskimos have 50 different words for snow and ‘we’ seem to have at least 50 different meanings for ‘love’ but I’m not sure what my point is; so instead I’ll ponder on your marvellous take on ‘I love you’ for a day or two more before moving on to Fragment #2. Merry Xmas. Cx

  8. Charles:
    Hey, Charles! I’m so happy to see you here. Thanks, thanks so much. Hope you’re in it for the long haul, and hope you are well.

  9. Dear Matt, welcome to the world of on-line thought sharing! It is wonderful to read yours. I met my husband on a plane, thirty-two thousand feet clear of every day, and so your post took me back to that moment. Thank you x

  10. Ren:
    Looks like we both have much to be grateful for where air travel is concerned! Thank you for coming to visit and do hope to see you back here again.

  11. My husband is the brave one, always the giver and I with the very weak, “me, too.” My 15 year old daughter recently said, “it seems as if you are saying you love yourself, too.” I thought a moment and yes, she was correct, I sounded selfish and quite stingy. Why so difficult at times to just say it? Control? Resentment? Afraid to need another?

    Thank you for sharing this piece with us, this weighty fragment.

  12. Kimberly:
    Thank you for coming back to comment on this first Fragment. It was strange to read it myself once more. Your daughter seems very astute! It can be a difficult thing to say for so many other reasons, although I think saving it for that moment that feels like it could be the ‘right moment’, and keeping from repeating it to the point where it loses any meaning are often what keeps it from being said so much more.

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