“Love is a frozen god,” he said and handed her a Subbuteo figure frozen in an ice cube. She took the ice cube between her thumb and forefinger and looked at it. “No it’s not,” she said, “it’s an ice cube with a Subbuteo figure frozen inside it.”
“Don’t you understand?” he said as a waiter filled her wine glass.
“Not really,” she said and arched an eyebrow, “am I meant to?”
“Love is too complex, too choked with hormones and blood and desire to ever find expression in words.”
“So what’s any of that got to do with this?” She looked down at the ice cube with the figure inside, still held between elegant thumb and forefinger.
“I told you,” he said. “Love is frozen god.”
“Has any ever told you, you’re very strange?”
“It’s quite simple,” he said and pointed at the ice cube “Love… is… a frozen god.”
The waiter returned to their table. “Is everything alright?”
“Yes fine thank you,” she said, but then shook her head across their half finished meals as the waiter left as if to indicate no everything was not alright.
“You can’t describe love,” he continued, “it’s so many different solutes distilled together. You can’t build it into words like bricks. You have to see it, be it, hold it, taste it…”
She popped the ice cube, with the Subbuteo figure frozen inside, into her mouth.
“What are you doing?” he said.
“Tashiing it,” she said and sucked down on the ice cube.
They spent some time like this, staring at each other across their half finished meals as she sucked on the ice cube. Eventually the waiter returned.
“Would you care for any dessert?” he said
“Waffwaf wafff,” she said.
“No thank you,” he said, “we’ll just have some coffee, please.”
She’d melted away the ice cube by the time the coffee arrived and took the slightly gnarled Subbuteo figure out of her mouth and regarded it, uniced, between thumb and finger.
“Nope,” she said, “it’s definitely a Subbuteo figure. A bit nibbled at the edges but…”
“Love,” he repeated, “is a frozen god.”
They spent some time arguing about whether the Subbuteo figure was Stephen Gerrard or David Beckham and how she hadn’t known he was one of those male footie types and he said she just didn’t get it, just didn’t get it at all and they left without drinking their coffee, without even eating their mints.
Later he lay on the bed flushed and red, after the kind of torrid frenzied sex that only follows a good argument. She was curled asleep beside him in the crook of his arm, her flushed cheek fading to pink, like a rose petal distilling into water. They lay there together, close and naked on the bed, but still he felt completely alone. The kind of total aloneness that only follows torrid frenzied sex that follows a good argument.
The gnarled Subbuteo figure was on the bedside table beside him, standing on the curved piece of plastic that made it wobble when you flicked it. “Tranmere Rovers,” he said quietly to himself, “actually it’s the left back for Tranmere Rovers.” Not that he was really into football, she was right about that. He leant over and gently flicked the Subbuteo figure and it wobbled backwards and forwards on its base like a man alone on his own half segment of the world, backwards and forwards in darkness.
She woke as he moved. “What is it?” She said. He looked away from her. It was night now and outside you could see stars between the floating leaves of the trees.
“How can you ever describe love,” he said, “in this enormous universe below the thousands and millions and billions of planets and cold stars and galaxies .How can you ever describe it between just two people, alone beneath all of this, how insignificant can that be, like describing two pieces of dust on the point of a pin. Pointless.”
“You are strange,” she said and touched his face with her finger, “and if you don’t mind me saying a bit of a miserable old sod.”
They lay together like this on the bed staring at the room in silence until he said. “Can you see the bits of natural radioactivity?”
“The bits of natural radioactivity all around this room. It’s a kind of natural fluorescence, the natural radioactive decay of different elements that you can see all around you, but only in darkness when you are still, a tiny shivering glow. See over there by the cupboard and on the corner of the table and on the ceiling by the lampshade.”
She followed his pointing finger and said, “Yes, yes …I think I can.”
He got up off the bed and rummaged in a drawer. “I’ve some fluorescent markers here.” He turned to face her holding two pens. “Will you help me join the dots?”
“What?” She shifted up onto her elbows on the mattress.
“Join the dots of natural radioactivity, the bits of the glow, mark the lines between them with a fluorescent pen.”
“If you want to,” she said.
She took a pen and together they drew fluorescent lines between the glowing dots of natural radioactivity that were scattered across the ceiling and the walls and the furniture until eventually they had made a kind of criss-crossing luminescent chart of the darkness. They lay on their backs on the carpet beneath the glowing web of the map of the room.
He got up. “Stay there,” he said and went over to the bedside table and picked up the Subbuteo figure. Then he went to the window, opened it and threw the figure into the night sky. It turned as it moved between the thousands of stars and then was silhouetted by the moon, revolving across it like some kind of grotesque E.T. before it disappeared into the blackness. “He was never a good striker anyway,” he said, “hadn’t scored away from home for fourteen games.”
He returned to the floor and lay down beside her.
“There were no natural spots of radioactivity, were there?” she said
“No,” he said.
They lay together on their backs, naked, staring up at the fluorescent map of the godless universe.