La ruptura.

Tan pronto todo se empezó, se acabó.

Dos años y medio a su lado,

Sus labios ya no se acercan los míos.

No los buscan, no los acarician como hicieron antes.

Él, años luz de donde estoy yo, ahora,

Viajando por un país de peligros, incertidumbre y

Caminos torcidos como espaguetis.

Conversaciones por teléfono, permitidas por el wifi

Nos permiten estar en contacto

Y de vez en cuando empiezo a decir “te quiero”

O “te echo de menos” y me tengo que parar

Como un gran semáforo rojo que nunca cambia a verde.

Mientras tanto, me busco la vida aquí,

Abriendo puertas, cerrando capítulos de mi historia

Pero la puerta entre él y yo permanecerá media abierta

Media cerrada hasta que uno de nosotros se canse de la distancia

Y de las palabras que añoramos decir pero no podemos,

Hasta que él encuentre novia

Yo yo encuentre novio.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

Today on Gran Canaria, it rained something fierce.

Blouses and trousers shook on the clothes lines and were left sodden, stretched and hanging.

I prayed for them not to break loose and fly away. Knickers would be strewn across the pavement, bras caught on flag poles next to a sea of red and yellow and socks crouching in dirt-ridden gutters. Thankfully the pegs stood strong.

Children came to school with giant overcoats and umbrellas, ready for an indoor break time and the rescheduling of after-school stuff. They said their match was cancelled, so why wasn’t English?

I couldn’t really explain why.

Week nights.

I took to my bed like Janis Joplin to her Southern Comfort. Diving down between the sheets… earplugs in because the TV’s a-cracklin’ in the living room. Fleeting thoughts about one of my students whose curiosity puts his classmates to shame. Wondering if I’ll ever have a kid like that. Couple of Spanish words bicker inside my brain, pushing them lightly to the side, I slumber. Phoebe’s clawing outside the bedroom door… it’s 1am and the TV’s still moaning but the air is black and stuffy from my snores. He’ll come to bed eventually, I say. Phoebe will tire eventually, I say.

I awaken in the deadest of hours and open the door to her furry feline face. The TV has tired too and switched itself to mute, boyfriend sprawled across the couch with a bag of weed and a dirty jar or gherkins beside him. Midnight snacks are always devilishly peculiar, I say. Phoebe is whimpering at me, rubbing her dainty little furs against my warm shins and peering up at me with two eyes like glazed donuts. The dry food bowl is still plenty full and there’s a ring etched into the sofa from where she’s been sleeping beside her master. Hoisting my pyjamas down in the bathroom, she follows me in, dearth of any human need for privacy. All too willing to hear the gargle of the toilet just for a few measly pieces of her Whiskas luxury tin. Finally, I’m forced to scurry back to the bedroom at lightning speed to avoid her following me in. She’ll hide under the bed and then crawl on my face, I say. Like Flash, I’m gone within seconds, and poor Kitty finds herself in a state of (what she would call) starvation once again. Let her nibble on the toes of Boyfriend, I say.

Too many teachers spoil the broth

They all filter into the classroom like the condensation on my Coke can. Four of them, all older than me, all wiser than me, all infinitely better at life than me. One sells properties to banks (at least, that’s what I gauged from his clumsy L1 expressions) and another wears too much eyeliner. Funny, isn’t it? How I comment on the guy’s profession and the girl’s make-up. Unintentional, I promise.. they were the two characteristics which came to me first. I could have said he does crossfit for an hour after every class because he makes a point of throwing up this very riveting fact in pitifully broken English just as he’s notioning to leave. “Crossfit nooow.. one howerrrr. Si?” “Yes, yes, very good.” Maybe think about putting as much sweat into your irregular verbs exercises. I want those sheets to be dripping in human juices when you tug them out of your bag next class.

The other two are teachers. We have three teachers in the classroom in total. Chaos ensues and I, the “main” one, am judged and pecked by their beaks for a full sixty minutes. Vultures who peck and sneer and tell me they don’t understand me, “what did the muchacha say?” Yes, because I can’t explain for toffee when you’re eye-balling me like I’m the last papa con mojo left on the table. A small, rounded, youthful potato waiting to be stabbed by your fork. Breathy, I feel my throat clench up and suddenly I feel like I might actually die. Panic radiates through my kneecaps and I wither like a flower, pen pointing shakily at the board, as if I actually know how to write in a straight line on one of those things. As I attempt an explanation, I start to confuse myself about when we use get on, get up, get off. “Get down?” she asks. And all I can think about is Kool and the Gang.

Desiring only speaking and listening practice, the hour passes and I feel my heart thump to the beat of the creaking ceiling.. (leaky pipes, we suspect. Possible zombie? Hard to tell.) I’m a third of your age, but somehow I’m omnipotent in this room of horrors and it’s up to me to provide insight. Yet she, with her Goldilocks should-be-grey-by-now barnet, who towers over me even whilst seated, plagues me with her questions and commands and “escribeme ese muchacha” without even a por favor gracing her lips.

I know I’m mousey and fragile-looking. I know I have the demeanour of Tweety Pie and as much presence as that abandoned stapler, flung to the floor without a care, but I mean something. Here, I am the goddess with all the answers, and you are all peasants, seeking refuge in my moth-eaten knowledge and comfort in my flat-chested bosom. I might hunch my shoulders forward when you address me, and I might stand at the front with my feet shuffling because looking natural has never been my forte. But I mustn’t feel bullied by your heavy glare or weighty experience, because I’m learning. Nobody should make me feel smaller than I am. I’m already only 5ft3.