Paul didn’t receive a reply from Jenny. When he got home the next morning, he checked his e-mail account, but there was nothing from her. Too early, probably, or else she hadn’t had the chance to read or reply. But later that evening when he checked again, there was still nothing. He checked what he had written and found it on the whole fairly kind, given the circumstances. He’d written three or four sentences in a bit of a hurry. He’d said nothing cruel. He’d just explained his disappointment at finding his words and ideas used in a No blog. He’d said they were too different in all sorts of ways, and that he had got back together with someone who had the same ideas about how to live as he did. He’d shown what he’d written to Roisin, who had thought it more than Jenny deserved. He’d pressed send and for the next twenty minutes or so reflected on what a good decision he’d made.
He looked at the pile of CDs on his shelf and wondered how he could give them back to Jenny. He could take them round to her flat, but he wasn’t sure if Susan and Lorna would still be there. There’d been some talk of a sublet. Anyway, they would just sit there in a pile. He thought about the music. He’d begun to like some of it. That song symphony by Mahler towards the end sent shivers through him. It was hard to believe that a woman could sing that way. It all meant something, too, even if he knew none of the words. What had Jenny intended he listen to next? There were a couple more Shostakovich CDs, one called Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues, and one he couldn’t pronounce called Cheryomushki.
Over the next few days he listened to them from time to time. Why had she picked those, he wondered? They were so different. The piano preludes and fugues were serious if not a little daunting. It was like some sort of study or intellectual exercise. Beautiful in places, but you needed to concentrate. There were tunes, even if at times it all became a bit discordant. But Cheryomushki was like some sort of American musical only set in Moscow and about a new housing development. It seemed absurd that he could like it, but the songs were catchy and he found himself whistling one or two while he was going round the Tillydrone housing estate with Roisin.
“What are you whistling?” asked Roisin.
“Oh just a song from a CD I was listening to earlier,” said Paul.
“One from that pile that’s sitting next to your CD player?”
“I can’t believe you like that sort of classical stuff. It’s so heavy and dull.”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s OK if you give it a chance. Why don’t we listen to something later on?”
“I’m willing to try anything once, I guess, but if it’s dull it goes straight off.”
Paul and Roisin spent most nights together either at his flat or at hers. He sometimes tried her with something that he was listening to. After Shostakovich the path seemed to go backwards and was by far the most difficult music he’d ever listened to. There were some CDs marked difficult with a post-it note. There was Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, and some selections including Three Pieces for Orchestra. There was Anton Webern’s Concerto for Nine Instruments and Variations for Piano. Finally, there was Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.
Paul listened to each in turn, but got little from the experience. Roisin was horrified and just laughed.
“What on earth is that stuff? You didn’t buy it, did you?”
“No, someone lent me it.”
“Who do we know who likes this sort of noise?”
“It’s not noise, Roisin, it’s just difficult. You need to practice.”
“Why ever would I want to practice to listen to music? The music I like, I like straightaway.”
“I can’t really explain. It’s just I’ve been finding out about this sort of music and some of it I rather like.”
“Who lent them to you, Paul?”
“It’s no big secret. Jenny did.”
“Why do you still want to listen to it then? It’s like you regret breaking up with her. Do you?”
“No, of course, not. It was an impossible situation. We disagreed about everything.”
“So why listen to the music she lent you?”
“I like it. I still want to learn. It’s not her music. It’s everybody’s. I don’t regret that she showed me some of these things. I don’t have to regret everything about the time I spent with her even though I’m with you now.”
“Well, I’d still rather you didn’t spend quite so much time with stuff she lent you. And let’s not watch any more of those terrible old black and white films.”
Over the next few weeks whenever he was alone, he’d periodically check his e-mail to see if Jenny had written him. Surely, she wouldn’t just leave things in silence. But she never did write. He wondered what she was doing just then, who she had met in Russia. Perhaps, she’d met some Russian man. He thought of all the ways in which his life was better now. Roisin was much prettier than Jenny. Her red hair, her figure, her face made other men turn around and look especially when she wore those ultra-thin leggings with a shirt that came just to the top of her thighs. They agreed on politics, they were working together for a goal that was dear them. The campaigning was going exceptionally well. It wasn’t reflected in the polls yet, but they could both feel the mood on the streets. It was so much easier to just take a girl home and go to bed with her. Roisin was straightforward. She knew what she wanted and took it. He wondered from time to time about the night when he’d broken up with Jenny. How much of that had been orchestrated by Roisin. Jenny had been wrong to use their conversations. But then again there was nothing in what she had written that she couldn’t have found out from somewhere else. It was just general stuff, the sort of ideas he had that he’d got from the group meetings. There was nothing secret that he’d divulged. Had it just been that he’d been angry that she’d argued so well? Had he been angry that she hadn’t told him? Did he even know for sure that she had written those articles? But he knew she talked with that Effie Deans, so it seemed reasonable to assume that some of what had been written was due to Jenny. Anyway, if she hadn’t been responsible, why didn’t she write back and say so. But then he’d already been with Roisin by then. She must have known that even by the time she read the e-mail. He thought again of how lucky he was to be sleeping with such a beautiful woman as Roisin. So many people he knew would be jealous of a girlfriend like that. She wasn’t inhibited in any way. He remembered all the nonsense with Jenny. Goodness, he’d gone further with Roisin in 20 minutes than with Jenny in five months. But somehow he couldn’t help dwelling on those months. He could remember moments of tenderness with Jenny that were just rushed past with Roisin. After a few weeks it had all become rather dull and mechanical. They’d arrive back at either his flat or hers and spent a very nice twenty minutes together. But each twenty minutes was more or less the same as every other. He got used to seeing her naked. He enjoyed sleeping with her. He continued to want her each time. But afterwards it seemed a rather foolish thing and not of great value. There was no music to accompany their dancing, and so they didn’t really dance at all. But Roisin was so much better than Jenny he kept telling himself. Roisin thought like he did, she had the same goals and they worked so well together. What else was there? Moreover, they were going to win.
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2018/06/an-indyref-romance-harmony-and.html