The official website of Scottish Author David F Porteous
“When there are no more paper books, what will you sign at bookstores?”
Ignoring the strangeness of a reality where there will be bookstores but no books, I respond honestly: “Breasts”.
“That won’t add any value”.
We’ve known each other for five years and though we only meet once every several months, our relationship is as comfortable as looking in a mirror on a good day. She is one of the people I text from the platform when I miss a late train and my coat isn’t warm enough.
A waitress insists on our attention, and will do so several times during the evening until we start to want hers. “Would you like some drinks?”
She has the wine list, does not like white and orders a new world red. She drinks more than I do, can drink more than I can, but neither of us knows much about wine beyond colour and the price we’re prepared to pay.
“Do you want to talk about your book now?”
“That depends; did you like it? Because if you hated it the rest of the evening could be a real downer”.
“I loved it—”
I relax. She brings the book out of her bag. I’m still not used to seeing other people own copies, hold them, flick through the pages; it’s like finding pictures of myself in unexpected places.
“—I was actually annoyed: I didn’t want to like it as much as I did”.
“I thought you’d like that”.
“Where did he find the time?” she asks herself. “I was jealous of how good it was”.
That’s how I would feel, in the private vanity of my dark heart, and knowing this she is able to confide. I consider that it’s only fair. The sparkling solitaire she wears catches my eye only once. She’ll marry in six months, but we won’t talk about the wedding or the ring I haven’t seen before.
She asks insightful, structural questions about writing I wouldn’t have been able to answer a year earlier. And she asks how the book relates to my own, distant encounter with mortality – questions I also wouldn’t have been able to answer a year ago. I still watch myself from outside during these moments, wary of seeming wiser than I am.
As we talk, the book sits on the table between us; ready for the deep and meaningful inscription she has given me a month to prepare. I have taken the month and created nothing. I silently reproach myself for not having tripped over the perfect line, in the sand of a beach the tide has just left. Scavenging is a method not to be recommended; it’s unreliable and it teaches hope.
But dog owners know the joy of things thusly found. They know that when you whistle – to signal time is up – your faithless hound may appear from over a dune, half-carrying, half-dragging something wonderful; as if to tell you that you are a fool: there is no such thing as time: throw this.
“I’ve got something”.
I write. She reads. And she rises from her seat to kiss me on the cheek.
Where Am I?
dfpiii.com is the official website of David F Porteous. Use the tabs to learn more about David, his books: Singular and The Death of Jack Nylund, or read his blog.
(<<< The blog is over there).