His father rubbed his back.
‘Now, son, I know you’re upset, but don’t say things like that. This is what it’s all about.’
‘Is it? This pain?’
‘No, son, the good stuff before the pain; holding hands, kissing and cuddling. All the good stuff.’
The boy sniffed.
‘Why did she dump me though, Dad? I thought everything was okay. I thought she liked me.’
The father smiled knowingly.
‘That’s the way of women, son, you never know what they’re thinking until it’s too late.’
‘You always know what mum’s thinking.’
‘Ha! Not really, son, ask your mother- she’ll tell you that’s not true. It’s just a matter of guessing right.’
The boy sat up now, dragging a crusty sleeve across his top lip.
‘Do you remember what this was like, Dad, when you were younger?’
The father’s eyed glazed.
‘I do, son, I do,’ he said. ‘Everything is perfect. You lie together until the birds are singing outside your window and the nights still seem too short. You feel a jolt of electricity each time you touch and your hearts beat as one; you want your souls to be entwined so that you can realise your love’s possibilities- a love greater than flesh, greater than spirit. A love beyond the reach of time. You can lie and stare at her face for hours; her skin a perfect canvas waiting for the paint of your kisses, her taste the finest wine. It’s the smell of her hair in the mornings, and her heartbeat under your hand when you lie together is the heartbeat of the earth itself. When you’re with her you’re never alone. All your experiences are shared; everything you see, she sees. Your lives are one; two people joined by a love so strong that from the other side of the world her love can bring you home.
‘But when you break apart her heartbeat is only for her; the canvas of her skin waiting for the paint of another man’s kisses, and where before you couldn’t slake your love no matter how you tried now you’d give anything just to taste her kisses’ wine for one last time.
‘Once you break apart your experiences are your own again, and isolation mocks your every step. So you just stay in bed and cry and say her name to yourself over and over again.
‘“Linda,” you say. “Linda”.’
The boy wailed and sobbed, his body racked with grief, his spine arched with force of his tears.
He struggled to force out some words. The father leaned in attentively.
‘Who’s Linda?’ whispered the boy.