Snowcase #41 • 26 November 2007 • The SnowBlog
Susan Carver's first novel focusses on the enduring effect of attachment and loss experienced in childhood. She is a therapist and academic .
Half in Love
At thirty-nine, Dr Anna Ballinger slides into a midlife crisis. Her father, who died at the same age, guides her back - from 'beyond the grave' or her own subconscious? Half in love
It was a harmless enough habit, thought Anna Ballinger. This secret trick of hers for making the world recede a little, as opposed to a lot - when she meditated - or fading it out completely, during sex. After all, she might have taken to strong drink or to whatever it was that Mrs Robinson kept in her pantry with her cup cakes.
Hugging herself, she scanned syllables, pressing her fingertips into the flesh of her slim upper arms as if playing scales on a piano, until the annoying, lame jingle began to resonate. Bouncing to music that jars with my mood...hardly a novel experience...dudepseudprude?
She settled for dude, played the couplets three times over and stopped, letting sensations bombard her again. The atmosphere in the seedily lit basement where she sat with her husband, Tim, on their preferred banquette, was sultry and charged with cigarette smoke - as usual. Strident, modern jazz blared, just as it always did, towards the end of the house bands first set on a Saturday night, above voices which had long since blended into white noise.
A little truth in the pathetic jingle? She gave a faint, wry smile and closed her eyes. An image of Will, one of her clients, white-knuckled and staring - at nothing - popped up again, like Jack from his box. She edged along the banquette, absent-mindedly trying to escape the bouncing, her right hand flying from a rent in the red leatherette.
She felt Tims hand on her arm, caressing her.
You OK Annie?
She smiled up at him, blinking mist from her eyes.
She slid back towards him.
Finding it a bit hard to switch off actually. Rather a heavy week.
Come on now, we cant have that, not on a Saturday night.
He put his arm around her and she nestled in. Keeping her close, he reached for his wineglass.
Taking her with him, Tim leaned across to pull a wine bottle from an ice bucket. The neck hovering over her glass, he smiled at her, arching his dark eyebrows.
He filled his glass to just below the rim, draining the bottle.
Why dont I get us a bottle of red?
Dont think so, not if you want me to get you home in one piece.
The good humour draining from his face, he let go of her and upended the bottle in the ice bucket, making water slop over the sides.
She glanced around. Without the devils decor, this place would have all the charm of an industrial unit, she thought, finding herself outside of her own experience again; a trait of hers she had become almost fond of; knowing it dated all the way back to the bright January morning when her childhood world had tilted on its axis. Her long dead father was often in her thoughts these days; she put it down to the approach of her fortieth birthday - an age he hadnt, quite, reached.