I Lost The Note
‘This is the part where you speak,’ she told him.
‘I just speak, straight out?’ he asked.
‘Yes. Like we practised. They’re ready for you. Remember what you planned to say.’
‘Are they looking at me? If they’re looking at me I’ll feel a little nervous.’
‘They don’t mind, so you shouldn’t either. It’s part of the process; you get to speak, and they listen to you.’
‘I might not want to.’
‘You can’t refuse, Michael, not now. That would be cruel.’
‘Are they watching me?’
‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘It’s ok. This is your moment.’
She took his hand and squeezed it and his fingers wrapped tightly around hers for a moment. Then she took her hand away and, alone in the darkness, he focused on the words he had to say.
‘I’m sorry,’ he began, but his voice caught in his throat and he had to cough and then start again, his voice louder now. ‘I mean, I’m sorry. I’m saying sorry. For the things I’ve done.’ He turned in her direction, ‘Is that alright?’
‘Don’t forget to say the whole thing,’ she whispered, close to his ear.
‘I wrote it all down,’ he said, ‘To learn it. But I lost the note. It’s all going too fast.’
Then he asked, ‘Melissa?’
‘Can you take off the hood? It’s dark. Can you just make it a little bit lighter please?’
‘You know I’m not allowed,’ she said. ‘Just try and say what you’re supposed to say.’
‘Alright,’ he said. ‘I will.’
He faced toward the armoured glass, behind which the audience sat, and he continued, ‘She wounded me, which was why I did it, but I,’ and he glanced down reflexively to where the note had been when he learned his speech, but all he saw was darkness, ‘I know that I, I,’ he faltered, and began to shake.
‘Melissa?’ he pleaded, his voice, already muffled, was so quiet the microphone barely picked it up.
From behind the glass came murmurs, the audience were growing restless, a voice hissing, ‘Get on with it!’
‘We have to get this over, Michael,’ she told him, her voice harsh now, preparing for a worst-case scenario that involved an unfinished speech, a syringe and a particular vein in his Velcro secured forearm.
But he’d already given up, he’d already folded, the tension receding, his fists uncurling. ‘Just do it,’ he said to her, his voice resigned, ‘I can’t say this stuff anymore.’
‘You must say it, Michael,’ she told him. ‘It’s part of the deal.’
‘Ha!’ was all he said. A muffled laugh. ‘Ha!’
She took hold of his wrist with one hand, nails digging cruelly into his flesh, syringe in the other pointing upwards, expelling air bubbles, squirting fluid.
‘Are we going to row again, Melissa?’ he asked, ‘are we going to argue and fight?’
‘No,’ she said, listening to the scrapes of chairs as the audience began to leave the room, the disappointed swish of curtains closing, and glanced at their reflection in the mirrored glass. ‘No Michael, we’re good,’ she said.
‘I’m glad,’ he said.
Then he said,’ I’m glad it’s you, Melissa.’