When Kris comes over, maybe he senses something has shifted in me. Even if only temporarily.

“Let’s write a song,” he says.

I almost say no. It’s my automatic response to most things these days. No, I can’t go out. No, I can’t do that. No, I’m alright here. No. No. No.

This time, though, I stop myself. Kris is so enthusiastic and I can’t keep fighting against him. I need to give something back. So I nod. Kris leaps off the sofa and grabs both guitars. He passes one to me and I clutch its fretboard with my left hand. I play a series of chords then start to loop them. Kris begins to pick a melodic lead line out over the top. The song comes to life and I hum a melody. It comes so easily and for a moment I forget everything that’s happened over the last few months. A feeling of possibility and hope bubbles up in me.

“My life shouldn’t be this predictable,” I sing.

Kris smiles and I wrinkle my nose at him.

“It’s embarrassing being so fucking miserable,” I carry on.

Then I stick my tongue out at him. This is me. I’m suddenly here in a way that I haven’t been for a while. I continue to spit out lyrics as they come to me.

“Sometimes I think my life is a joke.”

Kris changes his guitar line and the additional notes make the song sound like sunshine.

“I can’t see all my plans for the smoke.”

Even in this good moment, there’s no way Kris is teasing anything too cheery out of me. He knows this – he thinks it’s funny.

I pause for thought and Kris takes that as an invitation to jump in with his own words.

“I got bored of all the things that I’m in it for,” he sings and I know he’s teasing me – it’s obvious in his tone of voice. “And what is left if you’re interminably bored.”

I crack up. I can’t help it. Who the hell uses the word ‘interminably’? Kris knows why I’m laughing and in the moment we’re as together as we’ve ever been. We understand each other so completely, know each other so absolutely, love each other so entirely.

But just like that I’m back under a wave. It comes crashing down on me the way it always does when I realise the impossibility of my life is as impossible as it’s always been. It takes a second for Kris to realise he’s lost me, a second in which I see him still grinning, a second in which I’m pulled away from him by my own unstoppable current. Then he sees me underwater and he knows from experience that there’s no saving me. He’s tried so many times to reach me, to stretch out a hand for me to grab, to swim after me. But I’m gone. I’m drowning. My lungs aren’t quite full of water yet. But they will be.

They will be.

Find out how Cynthia got here. Start N-N-N-N-Nineteen from the beginning.

Chapter image from Life Of Pix.