Our heroine. Hair all over the fucking place, blowing into her eyes, into her mouth, she's spitting it out, laughing into the wind. She's giggling. She's tripping with her best friend in the sand dunes. No, wait, she's sitting in front of an I-book, a white one, with these rectangular glasses on, her hair straightened. Nono, too fucking Carrie Bradshaw. Anyway. Whatever. You'd like her, our heroine. Maybe you're just like her.

Ok. She's sitting up in the bed, her knees are at angles, there are pink sheets all tangled up around her legs. There are pillows humped under the pink sheets because she's supposed to be Resting and Icing and Compressing and Elevating her toe. She's hurt her 'sesamoids' by going on a long burning hot drug-flickery walk with her best friend while wearing child-size Adidas. Why child-size? She had to get the child-sized ones last year when she was broke. Child size were ten pounds cheaper, and she was that poor, last year, before the interent job saved her ass, that she bought trainers two sizes too small, and hurt her sesamoids. Poor our heroine. Anyway, she's forgotten the sesamoids now - they're getting better - so the cushion-hump is all that remains, hunched under the pink covers like a boy sliding up to give head.

Our heroine always hurts her feet, or her toes. A broken little toe here, a torn tendon there, a twisted ligament. It's because when your feet hurt, all of you hurts. Synecdoche, you know? She never suffers the dramatic hurts, never breaks anything proper, never snaps fingers or wrists when she tumbles off her bike. Just bruises her arms, bumps her brow, hurts her feet - a patterning of tiny sores, minature breaks and pains, but nothing she can't handle. She's 'sassy', our heroine. She 'copes'. She's slick. Look at the grin. Look at her looking impishly up, laughing at something somebody's said on the internet screen. She's resilient, our heroine. A bouncing rubber ball. A squash ball. You gotta push really really hard to make a depression.

She's sipping from a heavy amber glass tumbler, our heroine. It's Les Jamelles Merlot, Vin de Pays D'Oc 2001. It has 'powerful flavours of ripe cherries, strawberry jam, leather and spices, and a long velvety aftertaste'. She's eating cheese that's on a plate on the floor by the bed. She slices without looking away from the screen. The knife slides slow through the block - it's Manchego, a hard Spanish cheese - then knocks sharp on the ceramic plate beneath to signal that it's got there, and it's time for her to lift the slice to her mouth and make the nibbly teeth at the end. She's got her laptop on her knees and she's messaging people and they are making her laugh.

Next to her right foot, which is tucked under her ass, lies a remote control and a Blockbuster video case. Our heroine's been watching films of late. She calls it research. She's only watched three so far: Harold and Maude, The Good Girl, and Y Tu Mama Tambien. She's been making notes in a small Paperchase notebook with a clear cover and Takashi Murakimi flower stickers all over it that she stuck on. Its pages go: green red yellow orange blue. Her notes go: 'If you play with babies, you end up changing diapers!' And, 'who cares who you fuck when you both come so fast!' Those are quotes from Luisa, the older woman in Y Tu Mama Tambien. More notes. 'I realised he was at best a child, at worst a demon.' That's from The Good Girl. 'He was half your lover, and half your retard son.' That's not from a film. That's something our heroine's friend said to her on the phone half an hour before, and she scribbled it down.

What else, then? What's beyond this room, these notes, this moment, her fucked-up foot, her wine and cheese and messenger and video orgy? Let's give her an ex. Or rather, an Ex. He should be capitalised. She ran into him last week. Clumped up the stairs at the Horse Hospital, hair soaked and dripping, her Outfit - the black pinstriped Adult. dress, the over-the-knee high pointy red suede boots, the filmy red neckscarf - all clinging and rumpled and sodden from the rain. He was there alone, beer clasped between fingers, neck inclined to gaze at the Art. She'd introduced him to her friend. 'Meet my ex', she'd said, then realised it wasn't enough. 'My big important ex', she'd explained, nodding. 'Years and years and years'. She'd felt she had to clarify, explain to her friend that this impromptu meeting was not mundane, but momentous. That the talk was of new glasses and job interviews and art projects and writing and design and whatnot, but the room bristled and the air hung heavy with Subtexts and Memory and Longing and Sadness and Joy. Her Ex is tall, and his sandy hair is short, and his face rumples, and all our heroine wants is to hold him. She feels as though there's magnets sewn to the insides of all her clothes and to the insides of all his: up the front of his baggy jeans, down the arms of his hooded top, all over his t-shirt, up inside his mouth, behind his teeth, under his eyelids.

You'd fancy him, her Ex, if you saw him. He's the hero type. You'd wonder what the fuck happened: firstly, that someone like him would go out with someone like her; secondly, that someone like her would leave someone like him. Maybe you'd watch them interact, like her friend did, and you'd see the awkward goodbye hug and then the tears prickling in our heroine's eyes and the way she looked up at the ceiling to snake them back in. And you'd observe her clambering around the dunes the following weekend, and you'd hear her words, her thoughts on a drug-loop, snagging back, catching on one troublesome situation and then on her Ex, like a computer game character stuck in a corner, bumbling back and forth....

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