'Coming, coming', you say. I haven't said anything. You bounce into the room, over my legs and land on the couch beside me. Don't have to look over to see the grin on your face, the one you always pull, the one I always return with one of my own. Normally I do, not tonight.
'Missed anything?' you ask, 'just starting', I say. You can see that. Our programme, our programme, one of many now really, our programmes. Every evening something on, sometimes more than one, record one and watch it after the other, our programmes. When did they become ours? When did anything become ours? I mean, we've been together for what, a few years now? Lived together for two, two and a bit. Even then, even then it was my stuff and your stuff, pretend-arguments about move your stuff out of the way, tidy your crap up, we're not watching that it's rubbish. All these little things, all gone, all ours now. Remember, do you remember that night out with Gillian, remember, she was back home to see her parents before heading off on another contract, remember, and we all got plastered, remember, and you asked her if she was a spy, remember? She works in IT and we split ourselves laughing, a spy, you were so embarrassed, remember?
Look at you. You are happy, really happy. I suppose I am too, well I was, no, maybe I am? I don't know?
There was something that night though, remember? The look in Gillian's eyes, something about the way we were just talking about, well, about us, that's it, us, that we were an us, we weren't a you and me anymore, we were an us. It was that little look in the corner of her eye. Now you know her better than I do, but I could see it, could you? It was that little look of, horror, I suppose. We know what she's like, always jetting off here and there. But I suppose, well I thought, maybe you do, or did; too, we never talked about it. I suppose we thought we were still the sort of couple that would do that, just hop on a plane at the drop of a hat, that sort of thing, except we don't anymore. I can't remember when we ever did.
But it was all so good, and it still is, it really is, you know that, don't you? It was nearly perfect. We just decided early on, we never talked about it, I think we just assumed it. We just decided that it was just us, no history, no baggage, and that's all I wanted. Not that I have any skeletons, not that I have anything at all really, just the idea that it was you and me against the world, that feeling that it was us, all either of us needed, just us, all we wanted, all I wanted. All anyone would want, isn't it?
I don't know if it was that night out with Gillian, maybe I'd been thinking about it, no, thinking about it makes it sound like I was actually doing something, looking out for something, no, maybe I was just aware of something. Look at you, smiling about something he's said on the TV, one of your little 'see I told you they were going to find out' looks, you always have them, even when you're wrong. But I don't mind, honestly, I never did, we just laugh about them because it doesn't matter.
And I love you, I really do, I could say it to you now except you'd laugh at me, not now, not in the middle of one of our programmes, but I do. I love your sweetness and your honesty. We share everything, just us, no one else matters, just us. At least I thought we shared everything. But it was because you're honest, because we never hide anything from each other; maybe that's why I started to notice.
It was a little thing, a weekend away, a city break, out on Friday and back on Sunday evening, nothing too expensive, just somewhere we'd never been. I picked Budapest, no real reason, just somewhere we'd never been. And that evening, remember, when I told you, that look, that little look, you were happy at first, remember, then that little look crept across your face, I could see it, right there. A look, a memory, just something little, if I'd been looking the other way I would have missed it. In a heartbeat you said you didn't feel like it, asked me to look at something in Italy instead. I asked, remember, I asked why, you said no reason, ready for that, no reason at all.
But it was after that, little things, always little things, not at first, just pieces I could put together. It's funny, living together, living with anyone I suppose, you get the other person's pieces and you start putting them together, for no real reason to be honest, just the little things you pick up about them. You know I don't mean the big things, like I said we came into this with no histories, and it's not that I was after, no, just little things. Like where we'd worked, places we'd been on holiday, little things, things that really don't mean a lot, just to know, just to have an idea where you were when I was doing something else. Like the summer I worked in my uncle's factory, packing ladies knickers, you were picking strawberries with Gillian, little things, things that don't mean anything. And they don't, they really don't.
But when you know there's a gap, like a scab, you just have to pick at it. Work around it; don't think about it but you keep coming back to that gap. It annoyed the hell out of me. Thinking, sitting down and thinking about it I could put everything you've done since leaving school together, didn't have to try, you told me, and you could do the same about me. Even here, even now if I asked, turned around and asked you, sure you could do it, during the breaks of course. Couldn't stop thinking about that gap, what happened?
Were you somewhere else, was there someone else? It didn't matter, it doesn't matter, it really doesn't, past is the past. But I couldn't let it go. Then I spotted something else, those days you came home, that look on your face. Nothing special on, no special occasions, no appointments, nothing I could figure. But you had that funny look on your face, never saw it before. Always distant for the rest of the evening after that, each time, went to bed early, no matter what was on.
Decided to follow you. I know, I know, Jesus, I can't even believe I did it, who am I? That's not me, you know that, it's not, but I had to, just had to.
So I followed you. Knew it that morning, last week, remember, the really sunny morning, half thinking about asking you to ring in sick, I'd do the same and we'd just go somewhere, do something. But the minute you came down I could see it, that look. Said nothing. I let you pull out of the driveway first then I followed you. Christ I felt sick, wanted to turn around, I really did, you have to believe me I felt like puking my guts up the whole time. But I followed you. I'm really sorry.
I followed you to the graveyard, Glasnevin, no one I know in there, none of my family, none of yours, but you parked up and went in. And of course I followed, had to. Please believe me, I felt like an absolute shit doing it. This wasn't me, this wasn't us, but I had to know. I stood back, out of the way, behind one of the big gravestones; the big Celtic crosses, looked over and watched you putting a flower on the grave, just one. Had to, I had to know now. Waited until you left, felt this had to be it, you weren't doing anything else, you weren't meeting anyone else, had to be it.
So I waited, waited much too long, always afraid you'd come back. Looking over my shoulder the whole time, convinced you'd come back. I crept over to the gravestone, really did, felt my knees locking the whole time, nerves. Just a simple stone, plain black marble, nothing special, just a slab of stone polished up. The name, Trevor Williams. Just an ordinary name, had to keep repeating it to myself to remember it, Trevor Williams, Trevor Williams, Trevor Williams. Nothing else on the stone just dates, born and died, made him, made him forty, no, forty one. Died, looking at it, working it out, died, yes, died right in the middle of that hole, that gap. What happened?
Kept whispering the name to myself at home, afraid I'd forget it, afraid to write it down, who was he? No mention of him anywhere. Tried looking him up online, nothing, well not nothing but nothing to say I had the right Trevor Williams, nothing. Put your name and his in at the one time; see if anything came up, nothing. Couldn't think of anything else, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat. Remember, you thought I'd caught that bug that was going around. Still thinking about me. If I was any sort of a man I would have let it go, had nothing to do with us. Us, here now, you slide over closer to me. Normally I just put my arm around you, normally, not tonight, still floating above me, that name, Trevor Williams, have to know.
Wouldn't have had a chance except you asked me to collect your sister, remember? Of course, only last night. Pick her up, you asked, please, giving me the puppy-dog eyes, laughing, smiling, knowing I'd say yes the minute you asked but playing with me anyway. You had that thing, you said, couldn't make it to the airport so of course I said yes.
Hadn't planned to say anything to her, always chatting, always on about this and that, me barely listening. Only when we were stuck at the traffic lights, the bus in front of us pulling out, only for that I might have kept my mouth shut.
'Look', I said, 'who was Trevor Williams?'
All I said, but the look, the look, hurt, angry, upset, almost tears but I had to pull out, bus gone. She said nothing, didn't give anything away, whatever happens she didn't tell me anything, remember that. All she said was:
'I don't know where you heard that name but all I'm asking you is, please, never, I mean never, ask her. Whatever you think just forget it. I mean it, she'll get up and walk out the door and you'll never see or hear from her again, I mean it, I fucking mean it. Just please, for the sake of everyone, just forget that name'.
Said nothing more as I dropped her home. Didn't sleep after that, not a wink, let it go, say nothing, all I have to do. No reason not to believe her. Always get on well with your sister, always liked me, always liked her, no reason. But, but, him, that name, who is he? Can't think about anything else, nothing, just him, just that name. Just forget it, like she said, just let it go. Can't do anything, I mean he's dead for God's sake, nothing to do with us now, here, tucked up on the sofa watching our programmes, nothing to do with anything else. All I have to do is leave it, forget it, forget him.
Then the ad break comes along.
'Listen', I say, you actually sit up and look me in the eye, 'who was Trevor Williams?'