By Emma Buckley
Somewhere in Belfast, in the back of a taxi, I’m bolting from the party like a one-night stand,
before midnight, before the sky gets bright –
I’ve never managed to make it home at this time.
My record for drunk dialling you has reached seventeen times, the only evidence
that someone really took me home, that I even left the house at all.
So I’m a drunken Cinderella running from the ball.
There are photographs on my bedroom floor, you and me from a few nights before,
because you couldn’t make it out tonight. I tripped in the hallway on my way to vomit,
tore my tights, called you another six times, apologising for no reason.
I told you I loved you and you said it back but I know it was too soon for you to mean it, but
I remember you cried when we last said goodbye and I know for sure that you meant that.
So I’m rinsing out my mouth in the kitchen sink like a guilty Catholic.
I woke up to the dorm room spinning around me, like my body wanted to keep the party going.
Lipstick smudged like a horror clown, I couldn’t look at my phone, I couldn’t keep food down,
Nursing a can of chicken soup like it was the newly born Christ, texting my friends back
with half-replies – “no, i don’t remember” – then trying to shower and just crying.
I’d promised you that I was really trying, but this is how you fall off the wagon.
So I’m a cowboy. I’m a cigarette ad.
I rehearsed this in my head a million times. Myself, dying. Myself, playing the victim.
You – in the abstract – taking violent measures to try and save my life.
You – in the literal sense – on a half hour bus journey with wheaten bread in your bag,
and a can opener, watching TV on the bed with me and nursing my bowl of soup,
ordering Chinese food, saying it’s really not that bad, by the way, and I love you.
So I’m not so bad.