The wax melted down between us, and your fingers tugged and played at the edges of the candle. Your eyes had been on me at the start of the meal, but after miss-steps on both sides into topics we had meant to avoid, my gaze turned down to my plate and yours became fixed on the flame. You played with softened pieces of wax between your fingers, and every time you shaped it into something beautiful I thought that you would extend it in an open palm towards me. Instead, you squashed and broke your small statues, and then looked confused about the mess you’d made.
My feet twitched under the table, and I exaggerated the movement in the hope that I could connect with your leg. I felt sure that some small touch between us would be all it would take to get the evening back on course. For a while, I laid my hand immobile in the centre of the table, waiting for you to take it, and when you didn’t I felt as foolish as a schoolgirl, and I hated you again.
My anger at you was contained in a box of fireworks concealed in my torso, and the fuses had become delicate and slight, whittled down to almost nothing by the many injuries we had inflicted upon one another. A touch from you at the wrong moment, or even a slip of the tongue could set one off. Then heat and light burned inside me, and I was blind to your attempts to earn forgiveness.
That night, I wanted for the fireworks to be gone, for the box to have emptied from all the useless bad feelings between us. But you played with the candle and did not reach out a hand to mine, and then later you asked me in such a painfully tired voice what it was that I wanted from you. A Catherine Wheel turned slowly, with a dull burn that seemed as though it would last forever.