It was on the second visit to this girl’s flat that he noticed the vase, in the corner of the room, partially obscured behind an aspidistra. With her he was just going through the motions, being polite, maintaining for the sake of form conversations in which he could never really give his opinion, since the way she expressed hers clearly implied an absolute intolerance towards those held anywhere near the other end of the spectrum, which was where his tended to reside. He mostly mumbled agreement. And what went on in the bedroom left plenty to be desired. Lights had to be off, pitch black, lots of no go areas, no noises, or sometimes deadening, theatrically unbelievable ones.
It was during her interminable “chats” over mugs of cold tea that he developed an attraction for the vase, which was directly behind her end of the sofa, meaning he could study its contours, become intimately acquainted with the play of sunlight on its glaze, whilst appearing to be entirely concentrated on whatever infinite list of right-wing platitudes she was reeling off at any given moment. The uneven, translucent turquoise of its bulging central section glinted and shone from within like shallow summer waters. Shadows from the agitated aspidistra were passing clouds, they served only to emphasise the vividness of that which they would so briefly hide.
Where she always presented herself as flawless, her vase was full of imperfections. In one place there was a deep crack filled with shiny lead, looking for all the world like a river seen from space as it catches the sun. Nearby on a particularly broad expanse of diaphanous light-green, there was an area of finely interwoven, multi-layered crazing (fine cracks), as if the vase were a thinly frozen lake, and someone had just walked across it.
Its blue had more depth, and more intelligence than the blue in her eyes. Its curves gave themselves up to the sunlight, to delight, to his eyes more freely than she would have ever dreamed of allowing herself, and he found himself coming over more and more often, found himself saying how much he liked to “chat”, found himself waiting for each time she went to the loo.
Within the confines of its S-curve profile, its three different glazes and their varying depths, he discovered an entire world that he feasted on not only with his eyes, but as he drew close when she would leave the room, with the tips of his fingers, with his whole palm, cupping each protrusion lovingly, with the tip of his tongue, tickled by its alpine coolness, the occasional powdering of malty dust, the thrill, the sheer tingling release of running the full way around, from top to bottom, side to side, with the entire surface of his tongue, spread out at full sail and sliding with total abandon.
It was delicious, a delight. A pile of clay, a dusting of sand, some minerals, fire. It didn’t say a word. It didn’t do anything. And yet it filled his senses, pricked his desire, drew him back. He felt an affinity with the Hebrews who believe that human life originated in clay, that the very first man, Adam, was really also the very first piece of ceramic, fired in the breath of God. The vase was definitely more alive than the girl. He was even beginning to feel like it was more alive than him, like it was an object out of time that required his veneration, needed a weekly tribute of caresses, attention, adulation and passion from a mere mortal or else it would silently bleed itself away, disappear into an attic, die.
After a few weeks, already suspicious as to why he kept coming over, especially since their relationship had ended and they didn’t exactly get on like bff’s, she pretended to go and write an email in her bedroom, watching instead from her room as he surreptitiously crept over to her plant, kneeled down next to it, grabbed the urn which used to contain her great grandmother’s ashes, and started fondling, licking, and practically necking it like he was some disgusting, deranged dog in heat.
She pushed him to the door shouting things along the lines of ‘what the hell is wrong with you?’ and ‘get out you freak’. She never replied any of his texts after that. Luckily they did not have any mutual friends.