The Woman Who Found Love


You said, ‘I love you.’ Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? ‘I love you’ is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them.

She was right. She has to be; it’s in a book and people have read it for years. It’s so striking, so blunt, but it resonates with a soft, familiar hue. It’s almost like I’ve always known this. Like the knowledge has always been there but buried somehow under a pile of flowers, clichés and the two seats that hide in the darkness at the back of cinema. Hidden completely until now.

He’s lied to me, then. Now. Will do again. They’ve all lied. I’ve lied. Constant lies. There can be no truth in something fake. Love must feel as true as a polyester jumper feels like cotton, or silk. I’ve worn love, fake love, for all these years. Love has worn me, eroded me. Yet now love has worn away my plastic eyes. I’ve broken through.

But surely I felt it and always have. Love is warm, cosy. Like seal pelt gloves. I still feel its warmth. He is warm, never cold. He never quotes it, surely; he feels it within him and injects me with it too. That’s love, isn’t it?

Warm though. Not hot. Why did I use warm? Warm is a forgotten cup of tea, or a cloudy summer’s day. Warm is medial, temporary, flat. If love is warm then I am lost in warmth.

‘I love you.’ He said it this morning, over a half-tied tie and a welcome mat. I welcomed it, clueless and stupid. Like I saw you, or I poked you, or I killed you. Love is an action. ‘I love you.’ He acted love upon me, forced it upon me. Love is something he did to me. This morning, last night, our wedding day, our sixth date. All those texts, phone calls, birthday cards: he did love to me. At me. Love is no more than a foul verb. I feel it no more than I feel think, talk, or stand. Love is something we act; it is a play within which we all participate, recite our lines, and stand where we are told. Love is not love.

And so I stand at this doorway, and recite my lines like the good actress I have become. Like the actors we all are. I take his coat, close the door, and embrace him. Looking into his plastic eyes and whispering off a stale breath: I love you.