I am walking home. I am shivering. The sky is smoky grey. I am scared. Today is One of Those Days.
Everyone has Those Days. We all say to each other "I'm having one of those days," and nod, and smile, and grimace. However, this statement is like any agreed truth; we all mean different things by it. Some people mean the days when they lock themselves out, forget everything, accidentally wee on their boss's shoes, whatever.
I don't care about that kind of shit. When I have One of Those Days, I mean the days when I can't not think about Matthew. When he has an almost physical presence. When it feels as if he's constantly behind me.
Those Days are rare, fortunately. They run at about one every three months; I can live with that, well, I can live with it when I'm my usual self. On Those Days I can't live with anything.
They are characterised mainly by an overwhelming but diffuse sense of fear and uncertainty. Everything from the sky to the shop-assistant who sells me my lunch seems like a threat. On Those Days I don't like to sit with my back to doors. My arm aches constantly (there is a lot I don't remember about my encounter with Matthew, but one thing that appears to be fairly certain is that he somehow pulled or wrenched my left shoulder. While there's no physical injury now, it hurts whenever I feel threatened or under stress. One of my many therapists called it a "body memory" which is as good a word as any)
I also don't like to be around anyone else, especially not one on one, because I don't trust anyone. I remember enough to know Matthew appeared to be a perfectly normal, even handsome man, and I went with him without question when he told me my mother was waiting for me. It's hard to convey the terror of the moment when you realise the person you are with is not what they appear to be. I had a vague idea about sex but I was certainly not aware of even the concept of an orgasm, and I am sure you are all aware even ordinary people can get a bit...intense...
I was a well-read and imaginative child, with a decided liking for fantasy, and my encounter with Matthew led me to conclude I had just had a close encounter with a werewolf.
To be honest, even at the age of 34, I still don't have a better metaphor for the predators that live among us disguised as human beings. The people who look absolutely normal, whose hands you shake, whose jokes you laugh at. The people who go home and beat their partners and rape their children and then bring doughnuts into work the next morning. And 90 per cent of the time, they are normal. Of course they are. But sometimes they are something else.
And once you know the werewolves exist...you know that they could be anyone. They could even be a policeman, or a nice lady. And you'd never know. So yes. On Those Days I don't like other people.
There's not much I can do when I feel like this, so I do what I always do; I don't go out, get drunk and find someone to hurt me (this may not sound like a thing I am actively doing, but I can assure you it is. I want to drink until I have to go to hospital. I want to find the biggest, nastiest man I can and offer him all my money to beat me up. I want to wake up tomorrow bruised and bitten, memoryless, hungover) Instead I go to the Tesco at the end of the road and buy a bottle of red wine and a ready-made pizza. I pay for them at the self-service till, the "help yourself" as Gin calls it, avoiding the tills with cashiers. I do not meet the eyes of anyone in the store. I get to the flat and lock the door behind me. I check all the rooms in the flat, opening anywhere people could hide, and satisfy myself that there's no-one here but me. I open the wine and start heating the pizza. I change into jogging bottoms and put on and zip up my special hoodie, the one I use to comfort myself. I take the pizza and wine to the sofa. I eat the pizza. I roll a spliff and light it. I put on The Godfather. I get on the sofa and lie down. I wrap myself in a duvet, pulling the hood of the hoodie and the edge of the duvet over my head until I feel safe.
Also it helps that, in his youth, Al Pacino was hot as fuck.
You'd think I wouldn't want to think about sex on One of Those Days, but actually those are the times when I miss having a partner most. Affectionate physical contact is really comforting.
I stay on the sofa, watching the film, smoking and drinking, until I am drunk and stoned enough to not to have to think any more.