I worry a lot about where things should go. The physical space they should inhabit. I am a tidy person, most of the time, though not always a clean one. But I like to know where everything is.
I hurt my ankle on Wednesday; I went running at lunchtime and it didn't feel right but by the time I was in real pain I was far enough from the office to talk myself into running the rest of the way back. Andrew had to come and pick me up after work, in the car. He tried to fit my bicycle into the boot, but it got stuck. It won't fit, I insisted from the passenger seat, leave it, please, I'll pick it up tomorrow. I almost have it, he said, and I winced at the sound of the wicker basket scraping along the brace for the back seats.
It's a new basket. The cat had chewed at the willow on my last one and I'd tried to repair it by weaving twine around the rim, but the man in the bike shop said it made him sad to look at it, and so I replaced it. I've kept the old one for picking apples. It's rotting outside the patio door.
I was very good at Tetris as a kid, I said to Andrew once he'd hefted the bike back out of the boot and locked it up again. And I'm good at parallel parking. You can't drive into a space though, he said, and he's right. There was no need for my I-told-you-so.
We stopped at the library on the way home so that I could return some books. One of them was so overdue that I'd received a notice in the post, printed on perforated paper. It looked like a payslip. I called the library immediately, indignant, insisting that I had returned it in early December. I remember, I said, because I had renewed all of the books in that batch but couldn't renew the DVD, Pavee Lackeen, and when I returned the lot and asked to pay the fine I was told that it had never been checked out on my account. So, I said, there must have been another mistake made. Jennifer was patient, she put me on hold and went to check the shelves again. My battery died. You definitely returned it? Andrew asked. Definitely, I said. I keep the library books separate, on the table by the front door, so that this doesn't happen. I borrowed his phone to call Jennifer back, but before I dialled I checked the stack of books on the desk in the office. There it was. Hello, Jennifer? I said, I'm so sorry...
We hadn't even watched Pavee Lackeen. Well, we watched a bit of it but then we got bored.
When we got to the library, I couldn't get out of the car. The books are in a red cloth bag under my coat behind the driver's seat, I said to Andrew. I'm always telling him where things are. Exactly, specifically where things are. Sometimes I wait to see if he finds them himself, even though I know I could save him the trouble. Sometimes I think I am a bad person, and that there is something very wrong with me. That I am not capable of being good. He brought the books back to the librarian and paid my small fine, and I sat in the car with my swollen ankle and cried.
I told my mam that I'd sprained my ankle. She said she'd bring me to the hospital. I said no, and she said she'd call in the morning. I didn't sleep well.
The next day, after Andrew had gone to work and while I waited for my mother to call, I planned how I might tidy the house even though I was more-or-less unable to walk. There wasn't much to be done, a few small things out of place. Dishes to be put in the dishwasher, boots to be straightened in the hall. I could almost hear Andrew pleading with me to cop on, to let it go, that that stuff doesn't matter. It does and it doesn't.
I remember a man I slept with, once, who thought he was cleverer than I. He watched me make my bed the next morning and asked why I felt the need to.
He moved to Berlin, like Julian Gough.
In the end I took the dishes from the sitting room to the kitchen with me and left it at that. Mam didn't even come in, we just went straight down to the clinic in Smithfield. Which was just as well, as by the time she arrived I had moved on to planning the renovations we'd need to make the house wheelchair-accessible. Sometimes when I can't sleep, early in the morning, I lie in bed fretting about how we'll manage when we're older. Our bed is pushed up against the wall, Andrew has to climb across me to get in and out. It's very romantic. You don't plan for old age, when you're buying your first bed together. We spent an hour sitting on every one in the shop and then bought the biggest one they had.
Sometimes I think about where I'd put a crib (I'd put it where the bedside locker is). I'd move the bedside locker to where the washbasket is, I'd keep the washbasket in the kitchen by the back door. There's space for a buggy in the front room, with the bikes. There's space for a bed in the office, if I dismantle the desk. It took 160 steps to build, but I probably wouldn't mind. Andrew wouldn't either. He doesn't use the desk, preferring to study in the kitchen while I cook, or curled up on the couch while I read. He's sitting here now, impatiently reading Ulysses and waiting to read what I write.
I left the Rapid Injury Clinic two hours later with a note for my employers and a tubigrip support bandage. The doctor was a runner, she understood why I'd kept going even when it hurt, and talked to me about what I could do over the next few weeks (swim, ride my bike) instead of telling me what I shouldn't (run). I bought mam lunch and she brought me home. Andrew came in from work with dinner, dessert, tulips, a packet of Nurofen Plus and a palpable sense of relief. We ate dinner, the cat ate the tulips and I slept a dreamless, painless sleep in our great big bed.