Elbow – Mark Dwyer

Elbow - Unsplash

Tell us a story of the crowds – rammed and jammed and stood still…

H pulls his hand back from the overhead rail in the cable car, his elbow backward, straight into Collette’s nose. She pulls her hands up to cover her face, preventing herself calling out. There is no more room to move. Not the first time, not deliberate. H being clumsy – Collette, in habit as she is to being in his company, bearing these occasional injuries and batterings.

H looks on, an inane play of apology on his face, waiting for Collette’s get better and her offer of forgiveness. It is taking longer than normal. Collette’s hands remain at her face, elbows set into post-hoc, but hands frozen, cupped over her mouth and nose.

‘Are you bleeding?’ he asks. Too much. She shakes her head, loosened by the question, a question and a prompt, a prompt inviting her, to let go, to let it go. Go. To drop those complaint hands, for it to go, over.

He looks at her eyes, glittering, but maybe only wet.

People. The people are watching, being proximate – noticing everything. Watching Being Noticing Everything. The cable car has not yet commenced its ascent.

H had pushed to the front, tested the overhead rail as suitable handgrip turning to say … something, driving his elbow into her nose. What was the something? We don’t care. H had just been excited, trying to outshine the dizzy bigness of the price of the ride to the summit, trying to add something deeper, more subject, than the ruin of today’s holiday budget.

Instead he has elbowed her, feeling now the blunting impact, the velocity in doing it done, through his arm, in all that hurry, reacting to the worry and the bigness and the littleness of the cable car and the mountain, so accordingly as H himself, being big, moving big, driving the elbow into Collette’s nose. Hard to stop, but stopped. The stop transmitting itself through his arm, into flinch before establishing a look which resists the honesty of guilt.

The cable car commences its ascent with a jolt and Collette’s hands are forced to leave her face to stabilise herself against the sudden movement. There is an expression of discontent.

How many times? Many. ‘Too many,’ the chorus goes. He would get excitable and some thought, struck, would have to escape involving his arms and legs, often then with some sudden and peculiar alteration in his location. Often then, she would be nearby. Near by to become, a victim –

of the non-sequitur – of the epiphany, as it erupts from he. From him.

How often the backings-up, the jostles, the outright bangs, into her, a foot and a penis shorter, crowded in their seats on a train or an Aeroplane. ‘Just a minute,’ as he abandons her care, as he lurches more and more there, certain of his world.

‘Clot,’ she says finally. A new word.