Today was painting my nails day. The first time, actually. I found that it helped me remember you. I thought of your hands, your soft hands today – actually, I think about your soft hands every day. From there, I searched and searched in your box of potions and accessories, until I found the perfect colour – deep, dark blue. It’s the one I remember you wearing the most; the colour jumping off your skin; you holding my hand, my brown skin against your white skin, and that blue – that Sapphire Blue – tying everything together.
It took me several tries to get my nails right. I was at it for at least two hours. But finally, I was happy with the final result. I know this is going to sound weird, but looking at my nails, studying how the paint changed my hand, made me feel, well, sexy. I looked in the mirror at my hands and just couldn’t stop looking. I felt like a new person.
After all the effort, I desperately wanted to show off my nails. I head out to see mum, I know she will appreciate this new me.
‘Hmmmm.’ For fuck’s sake, I’ve spent hours doing my nails, and all I get is a ‘hmmmm’?
‘So, what else do you think?’
‘Well, it’s a bit bright,’ she says with a flat tone, in both her voice and face.
‘Mum, it’s dark blue. Sapphire Blue, to be exact. Since when is Sapphire Blue a bright colour?’
‘You ask me what I think, and then you give me hassle when I tell you what I think. My 43-year-old son.’
‘44 mum.’ She always gets my age wrong. I think she does it on purpose.
‘Hush! My 43-year-old son, walks in with his nails painted a bright blue, and he’s giving me hassle because I don’t like it?’
She had a point, I had to admit.
‘I know that’s the colour Janine wore, but David, the colour just isn’t…you.’ We both laugh at that. Mum had her moments when she could be serious, but thankfully it was not very often.
‘So how you holding up?’
‘Fine, I guess. Some days I wake up knowing that’s she’s gone. Other days, I slip back into not believing it’s true. Those are probably the worse days.’
‘And the therapy, is it helping?’
‘Yeah, I guess so.’ I dare not tell her that I’m on antidepressants. That on top of the painted nails would make her worry a lot more than she should.
‘And was the painting your nails bright blue, his idea?’ Mum’s chuckling. ‘Hey, hey, hey, go in there and let’s see what dad says about it.’
She’s such a naughty woman.
Dour Dad, that’s what we call him. Sometimes I look at him and wonder how on earth did he managed to bag mum, let alone have three kids. I mean, no child should imagine their parents having sex, but I just look at him and wonder, how did we happen? How?! He’s sitting in front of the telly, watching a programme that he will no doubt complain about, shouting to mum, giving her blow-by-blow updates of what he’s watching. And mum, the silly muppet, plays along with it. Half the time when she talks about something she’s seen on telly, you find out that she’s not watched one second of it, she’s just recounting Dour Dad’s ramblings.
‘Hey dad’, I said as I sat, next to him on the settee.
‘Hey son, good seeing you. How’s it going?’
‘All going good dad. All going good.’ Dad is not the sort of guy you share your feelings with. I know mum will fill him in on how I’m really going later.
‘Good son, good.’
Three commercials come and go, and we sit in silence. Dad switches over to BBC iPlayer.
‘What are you going watch?’
‘Some rubbish on Panorama. It’s on best-up TV.’
‘I think you mean catch-up TV.’
‘Oh, is it? Well, it will be rubbish anyway.’
I stifle my laugh when I realise that it’s about Thai Lady Boys.
‘See told ya. Just a load of old rubbish. I don’t know what’s happened with the BBC, they will air anything these days.’ Dad finally clocks my finger nails. ‘Hey son, you been painting? You still got some paint on your hands. I think we have some white spirit in the kitchen. Thabie, David has some dark blue paint on his hand. Can you find the white spirit for him?
‘You mean, bright blue dear. Yes, I saw that the minute he walked. I’ll think he’ll be fine for the moment. What’s on the telly?’
‘Something about Thai Lady Boys.’
‘Oooh, sounds interesting you’ll have fill me as it goes along.’
And there is my cue to exit.
As I walk into the kitchen mum says, ‘15 minutes. It took him 15 minutes to realise you have ‘paint on your hands.’
I had a dream about you. I was lying on the bed and was holding someone’s arm. I couldn’t see the face or the body, just the arm. It was just there, and I was holding it. And then I heard a voice, a male voice. He asked me, what colour nail polish are you wearing? I looked at my hand to respond, and that’s when I realised that it was your arm I was holding. I gripped it with all my might. I didn’t want to let go. And I kept kissing your hand, over and over, as I gripped you even tighter. I just lay there not wanting that moment to end. But something woke me up. Some sound woke me up, and you were gone. I had you for 5 minutes. For 5 whole minutes, you were real. I tried to fall back asleep. I wanted to find you again. But today is meant to be one of those days; I wake up knowing you are gone.