You are pretty constant. An echo of my own voice. Always there and therefore easy to overlook and undervalue. So when you are gone I find I miss you. It is hard to formulate my own opinion without first measuring it against your own. I watch a programme that you would find pretentious and I enjoy it, in a guilty way. I read a novel quickly and in secret because it is not that great, but it is good in the same way that chocolate is good, on the tongue, in the moment, and not so much afterwards. Nothing that I do when I am alone would meet your standards which are higher even than my own. We are hard on me, you and I. We make me self-conscious. We make me know that I could do better if I put some effort in.
A hand reel bobs on the tide and it is yellow and I know you would like that it is yellow, and also that it is just too far to reach from the bank. I saw a hand reel, I would say in an email, it was yellow, and caught in the to and fro of waves just a little out of reach. I compose the email but I will not send it because the word stalkerish comes to mind. It is your word, but I have adopted it, it seems.
I think of the boy who loved me too much and held the memory of me too tight until his last breath. His constancy scared me, kept me distant. And I wonder if I am this to you.
So it is hard, but I keep myself away with my painting and my writing and my less than perfect novels and the rather lame television shows. I walk back down to the river when it seems that I will succumb to the need to contact you. The hand reel has moved a little way but it is still there, lifting up into the curl of white water, disappearing, coming up again as if to take breath. And I want to tell you about it almost more than anything. It is bumping up against the edge and I reach down and I catch it. Just a scratched and stained piece of plastic, no line attached now. Nothing special. I resist the urge to keep it, to put it in a packet addressed to you. I wish I had never pulled it from the river. It has lost all its poetry.
On the way back to my flat I place the little scrap of plastic in the bin at the edge of the park.