Let me drive. Let me concentrate on this road, curving ever to the left, determined, it seems, to take me away from this city. Your city. All the jetsam of my four-hour trip builds at my feet. Badly refolded maps, roadhouse sporks, CD cases. Wasted diversions, really. But then New York is suddenly in view. Ellis Island. Statue of Liberty shimmering in the heat like a collapsed cube of ice.
When I get to Canarsie, my hands start to shake. I picture you, in the frame of your front door, head tilted, smiling in that half-surprised way you had. I picture us, hours later, out on the pier at Jamaica Bay, smoking, laughing. But I can’t picture the in between. Where you forgive me, where we touch longer than we should, where that part of our past you’ve walled up somehow crumbles.
I stop and park in a dead-end street until the sun finally rolls away, until I realise I’ve tried and failed. And I’m left alone with the presents I’ve brought you: a photo frame, The Collected Works of Shakespeare, and a humble useless apology.