She is writing up the business proposal: Excel and Word documents, razor-edged laminate folders, two hundred thousand cups of black coffee. The telephone shrills. Her parents – in flat tones – would like to buy her a house, a car, her parents would like to buy her. She bites so hard into her lip blood-drops form. Clutches the proposal tight as a baby.
* * *
He loves her.
But it isn’t working.
He loves her. The words are heavier and heavier on her.
He loves her. Is there somebody else?
He loves her. The only other person is herself. She’s beginning to think she overlooked that.
She’s so broke. Is there anything he can do to help her? He wants to help her. He has only ever wanted to help her.
She loves herself. She thinks perhaps she loves herself. If she gives love back to him, he’ll suck it into himself until she has nothing left, and he’ll be swollen.
When she speaks, he hears distortions. When he speaks, her head begins to hurt. He wants to help her. She doesn’t want to be helped. I want to love you, he says. She knows the shape of this love, and she is drowning.
She clutches the business proposal as if her life depends on it. You’re broke, he says. You need helping. Not from you, she says, not from you.