(In My Way) by Rob McInroy
When I was at school I was the revered (in my head) writer of stories about the bold (in his head) Dobbin F. Lugosi, trainee vampire and admirer of beautiful (in our heads) Dyl Hambone, minx, vixen, vegetarian werewolf. Since Dobbin loved Dyl and he was me and she was Laura the subtext was obvious, at least to me, but neither I nor Dobbin ever managed to get beyond the written word.
Perhaps it was because (in our hearts) we knew that the promise was better than the kiss.
Three years later (all alone) I met Laura in London (with a man). She smiled, I smiled, the dormant Dobbin F. Lugosi awoke. He remembered his beloved Dyl, remembered his broken heart. He threw back his head, cast a baleful gaze at the moon and howled (I love you).
“You still writing?” said Laura. (Dyl didn’t deign to appear.) Dobbin and I shook our head(s) in dismay.
Two years later Laura came back from London and we shared air kisses (as adults do). How are you, I said, and she said fine but her eyes said the man was gone.
“I liked those stories,” she said.
“Dobbin and Dyl?”
She nodded. “They were cool.”
She hadn’t aged. Her skin was impossibly smooth, eyes primed for mischief. It was like talking to Dyl Hambone all over again (in my dreams).
“I’ve still got them,” she said. “Read them sometimes. They make me laugh.”
(They make me cry.) “You were good. Don’t you still write?”
(I lost my muse.) “Occasionally, but it’s not the same.” (Not the same.)
“I always wanted them to get together at the end.”
(So did I.)
“I always thought they were us.”
(And her hand is in mine as we sit on the beach. She’s talking of the past but living in the present. Things merge, it’s an alchemical moment. I wish I knew what to do.)
“Didn’t you think they should fall in love?” she said. And Dyl caressed Dobbin’s arm.
“Of course,” said Dobbin F. Lugosi.
“So why didn’t they?”
(Perfection’s so much easier on the page: no worries, no failure. If the words don’t work, tear them up, start all over again.)
(If love’s too raw best keep it in the shade, in the mind, out of the way. It’s an aspiration, and Dobbin says it’s better to aspire than expire.)
I think Dobbin’s full of shit.
“Did you love me, once?” said Dyl, said Laura, said the present to the past. “I always suspected, but you never said.” She held my hand and we were fused together. Dyl reached out to Dobbin, as she never had before.
“Do you love me still?” And Laura reached out to Jack, as she never had before.
Dyl and Laura, they showed Dobbin and Jack that the promise, however sweet, is only a whisper of the kiss, and what a kiss (they kissed).
“Do you love me?” they said.
In my way.
(In my head.)