Where I live vs Where I want to live
This is where I live. That’s the kitchen bit, there’s the bathroom, that’s my room and that’s a spare room. There’s some art I made on the wall behind the sofa. It’s a picture of the rabbit my ex-gf and I used to have, drawn across 80 post-it notes. The gf is gone now and so’s the rabbit and the picture doesn’t look much like anything but I keep it up because I put a lot of work into it. On the opposite wall is another art piece I made—fairy lights spelling ‘help me.’ That only works when the lights are switched off—when you switch them on it looks like a random distribution of colour.
That’s the new tv. I don’t watch it much but keep it on for bg noise and occasionally glance over. When I see horses I say ‘horses.’ When I see London I say ‘London.’ When I see a part of London that looks familiar I say ‘I used to live near there.’ I say that because I used to say it when my ex-gf lived with me, and because I lived in London a long time.
This is my new gf. She doesn’t like where I live. Is it because of the fairy lights? I ask. She doesn’t say, she never says much, but she likes it more if we stay at her place, which is miles away. We go there after work sometimes, past a field with horses on the way. ‘Horses,’ I say. She likes to look out the window when we travel. She’s older than me, and I haven’t asked her yet if she wants kids. I hope she doesn’t, I don’t care for kids. Sometimes she contradicts me. She says ‘only two horses,’ like only two’s not worth commenting on.
My plan is to move to Spain after my current work contract is over, in nine months. But also I just joined a gym which insists upon a twelve-month contract, so maybe I’ll have to stay for that. And then there’s the new gf and I don’t know if she wants to move. If she wants kids she might prefer to stay. Perhaps I can transfer the last three months of my gym membership over to her.
When I was younger I used to tell a lot of anecdotes but I don’t think I do that much anymore. My gf doesn’t understand anecdotes. Still, I think there’s something to be said for good anecdotes so I’ve started keeping a diary every day of the interesting things that happen to me. Like the other day I was teaching at one of the schools my company has a contract with and outside they had a big banner congratulating some of the students on their success in the local speeling bee. If I move to Spain and get a different new gf, one who gets me the way I am, I might read her my old anecdotes, make her laugh at the things that happened to me this year. ‘They misspelled spelling! That’s a good one.’
This is Lock, my best friend. In my anecdote diary I call him my BFFN, best friend for now! Lock got mad with himself one day and cut his leg off and so he has a metal leg instead. He says he can still feel pains in the old leg sometimes, especially when he drinks. ‘You drink too much,’ I tell him. ‘You can never drink too much,’ he jokes. When he meets new people they always ask him if he likes his new leg and he says he likes it better than ever. He might even cut the other one off, so they match. He tells people they should try it, they’d like it too.
‘Would you like a metal leg?’ I ask my new gf. ‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘How much does it cost?’
One day we pass the field on the way to her place and there’s only one horse left in the field. ‘Horse,’ I say, but I’m wondering what happened to its buddy, where she’s gone.
Christopher James lives, works and writes in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has previously been published online in many venues, including Tin House, Fanzine, McSweeney’s, SmokeLong, and Wigleaf. He is the editor of Jellyfish Review.