‘Sounds like SAD’ said the doctor with a smirk, ‘but that would be ridiculous’ and then he hustled me out the door with a prescription for branded drugs. But now I sit in front of industrial strength blinds, dreaming of long Swedish nights. I have SAD, but not for the winter. I am a summer SAD. And it’s not just the heat, and the light, and the moisture that collects on the back of bus seats and sticks to your trousers. No. It’s the organised trips to the lido. The expectations of a picnic, every weekend. All the pimms. The slow reveal of flesh, phallic ice cream choices and increased public fondling. Mum and dad, I confess, I faked my way through the long dusky evenings of my childhood, that yelp of glee as we jumped into the ravine was actually despair. I didn’t want to sit inside the villa and skip the bicycle rides because I was just going through a phase. Or because I was just really into books. I was longing for the shadows. Give me icicles, crunch of snow underfoot, ice skating and falling down in public. Catching yourself if your reflexes are better and proudly declaring ‘did you see that? I almost fell’ Hot chocolates and red fingers, constricted arteries and heating I can’t afford. I only date in the winter. I only go out when I can layer, cover my pale flesh in oversized exotic jumpers. ‘Oh, I was just going through a phase.’ I say when friends ask where I have been, ‘and I am just really into books,” I murmur, hoping they will buy it, because the truth is mockable. The lies are forgotten as soon as I come alive, buying a round of schnapps.
You’re on a bus; there is a couple in the seat in front punctuating rudimentary comments on the bland landscape with loud wet kisses.
He breaks away from her leviathan teeth to remark on the posterior of a middle aged runner, not kindly, and you entertain yourself with those pixelated childhood memories of a youth spent at that post office, that pub, that house with a name. You remember how nice it was to move to a place where numbering a house would do, each place as innocuous as the next as if nothing saccharine or warm could take place there but everyone was okay with that. The woman across from you speaks on her phone as though in a hallway, fingers coiled around the wire shifting her weight from foot to foot as she delights in the speakers personal viewpoint on the whole situation. Everyone on the bus hates her but you… you’re jealous of her obliviousness to the man in the suit next to her loudly clearing his throat. This naïve selfishness is a wonderful gift, a personality defect you could do with but you are selfish with conviction, with the full knowledge of your spite. You sit three rows from the back next to a girl who could be beautiful and from out of your peripheral vision her lips appear comfortingly linear instead of thin and cruel and her wrists are tiny. You try not to brush your legs up against hers, the bus is filled to the brim, but you can’t help but notice the inward spread of her thighs in a A line skirt. You could tell her you work in fashion, congratulate her on the way she has put her outfit together, you could, but she is making a point to keep her body as rigid as possible. She is making a point not to notice you, and you are making a point to communicate “hey, I’m not one of those guys”.
There is a man in aisle that reminds you of your cousin if he were ten years older and you want to take his photo to show him what he might become, sleep deprived with paranoid fantasies about snipers that stop him sitting by the window. You hate this journey, you hate coming home and as you press the button for your stop you’re sure you hear the girl sigh in relief.