[commūn’ion, n. Sharing; participation; fellowship; intercourse]
Clockwise. That is how the bathwater exits into the drain. You only notice it if you make a point of it.
We had elk burgers and oddly non-bitter beer imported from Germany for dinner.
Breakfast will offer smoked reindeer and three kinds of strangely delicious-yet-pungent herring infused with pepper corns—amongst other things. I must remember to try the cheese again.
Our taxi drives on the wrong side of the road.
The seasons are all weird.
The sun never quite sets at night.
The locals speak in gentle little phrases and end their sentences in question marks. Even the neo-punk on the metro politely, shyly, smiles an apology after stepping on my foot.
The letters on their vowels are different, too.
The world is quietly, violently counterintuitive up here. We are so far north that tomorrow’s plane will fly south for two hours before we land in continental Europe, separate, and find our respective connections.
Respective cities. Respective lives.
Respectfully saying goodbye.
The air is eerily clean here. And if you walk along the banks of the islands that create this impressionist city, you notice bathers swimming in the water connecting urban lives. We are staying in a hotel on Södermalm—the island just south of the tiny old city. From our window you can see into the night for miles. The night is defined by a sky that seems to be creating its own light. An ink blue illumination that pulsates in the absence of the sun, creating its own life. It rebels against the darkness. At the summer solstice this lasts for only about two hours, until the sun reappears and reveals an even brighter Stockholm than the one remembered from the day before. The greens, yellows, oranges and browns that define this city are interspaced with the blue from the water and the white sky.
I recreate this memory carefully when I miss him—which I often do, these days. I recreate an image of my lover in my mind, and place him in the room that we shared. I am aware that everything is a construct. Fleetingly I wonder whether I am actually recreating the images as they were, or whether I am acting in an attempt to create a facsimile of the emotion that accompanied those days. It is the same thing: brute fact and emotion, I decide, and I leave it there. I have made peace with the fact that the self is the only knowable, or the only existent, thing. Solipsism does not insult me; does not render me more lonely.
I have a friend who says that I romanticise the past. I protest, denying it, but she is right. In fact, it is worse than that: I romanticise the lover I am with. I call it my nostalgia for the future—that perfect future containing idealised me and idealised him. I suppose it is inevitable that all my relationships end in metaphoric tears. As reality and the banal evolution of our soporific lives slowly erode the ideal I start to hate the projection, blaming my lover for not living up to the ideal. Unfair, cruel even, I know, but for a while it works.
…With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.
My lover and I have the same first name. He jokes that it is quite useful during sex; that it renders inoffensive calling out one’s own name as you orgasm. I smile at this, and pour him another glass of wine. He is so sensitive, sensual, sensory: he loves the hues of Stockholm, the crystal skies and the remarkable tastes of the food. He claims that one is free to reclaim one’s childhood here—to rediscover the pleasures of the senses as a child might. I think he is being dramatic; the hyperbole makes me frown. I don’t say anything. After our last supper we will make love. Tomorrow the plane will take me south. He will be gone. I need to make our final communion as free as I can. I must keep it light and unencumbered. The memory must be created. And survive.
My lover attended the same conference where I gave my paper. After my presentation on the politics of memory he extended a hand (palm up, I think) and said that he wanted to talk some more. That was four days ago. Entirely random. And here we are, going through the ritual one last time. I will give myself to him completely. I will take from this last night what I need to sustain me into tomorrow. And the day after. And the one after that.
We are on the bed. The curtain is not closed, so from beneath his body I can look through the glass and see the sky. It is not dark in the room. I take slow breaths, I suck in his scent and listen to the sounds our limbs make as they pass over the bright white sheets—in this light they are almost shining. I tilt my head to his ear and whisper,
“This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance…”.
He opens his eyes and looks at me before resuming our play. He is getting close. The breathing is quickening. I marvel at the automatic thrusting that seems to be hardwired into the males of all species. We are face-to-face; he had entered me from the front. I taste the air from his mouth, and as he climaxes I stretch my left arm out across the bed. His fingers are intertwined with mine.
He has not yet taken a breath. As the orgasm subsides, he exhales, and just as he readies to waken to the present, draw in air and open his eyes, I slide the blade gently from just beneath his right ear, across his Adam’s apple and exit a few centimetres later. There is a lot of blood, and I hold tight his spasming right hand, whispering,
“This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”.
He is already dead by the time air re-enters the severed pharynx; the last breath goes in, not out. The eyes are open and seem almost surprised. He is suspended in time.
I love him most right then.
We disentangle. I cover him gently with the remaining sheet. I shower in water that is slightly too hot for my liking.
After breakfast the shuttle will take me to the airport.
The memory remains intact. I will remember. Everything is as it should be.
It is perfect, our last night.