I’m at his table, too big for this apartment, pushed next to the new bookcase. His place is crammed with bookcases. There’s not a wall I’d be safe from in an earthquake. This bookcase he bought; isn’t “Ours”. It’s the one I’d least mind being crushed to death by. He’s reaching over me. I smell wine on his breath.
“Got it. This. This is a map.”
There must be three-hundred pages in a book the size of a pizza box. He fingers to the middle. Prodding at Waitangi, he wants me to see the place names.
“There’s no reason not to have bilingual signs.”
He raises his eyebrows, says,
“They managed it for The Treaty.” He’s smirking. Softening: “Isn’t it beautiful?” His expression now like when I got on my knees, the first time.
“The thing is, when I showed you the map of my home town in England, you hated it.”
“Did it have statistics for where settlers came from?”
“It was brown and I loved the creases. The place names, suffixes, told you where the colonisers originated.”
“Awe. Sorry, hun. Show me again. Go on, I’d like to see where you lived.”
“You don’t need another piece of English culture thrusting down your throat.”
“I am sorry, you know?”
“I am, too.”
“You’re sorry? Are you kidding? I’m the one who needs to be sorry, I’m the one…”
“No,” I say. “You didn’t want…”suddenly, I’m the one who can’t finish a sentence.
“I love you,” he says. “You know I mean it now, don’t you?”
“You are my one love, the only one.”
We talk then, the way we always do, until I’m the only one speaking.