Close questioning

17 April 2019

Grace Patrick went and watched – and felt anger

I saw a man standing on a stage, telling us about a woman who he had loved and lost.

I saw two male musicians supporting the telling of his story.


I didn’t see the woman.

I didn’t hear the woman.

I certainly didn’t hear the woman’s side of the story.

I don’t know if the woman is real.

If she is, I don’t know if she knows this story is being told.


I held a drink in my hand, and I felt it go warm as the man on stage returned, over and over again, to points in his story where heavy drinking felt like the only option.

I heard him recognise how ingrained in student culture alcohol has become, and I didn’t hear him question that. This story is all told with the genius of hindsight, and yet the critique of himself is limited.

So many times, I heard him place this unnamed woman on a pedestal.

I heard that she liked to read.

I heard that she gave him a book.

I heard she often lit incense.

I heard that he loved her and that she didn’t love him, I couldn’t feel sorry for him.

I heard that she was leaving the country for six months, and I couldn’t feel sorry for him.

I heard that he could barely leave his bed, and I couldn’t feel sorry for him.


It’s not her job to fix him. She didn’t offer.


As the play kept going, I felt anger.

I felt anger for all the people performing emotional labour that they didn’t offer to undertake.

I felt anger that her inability to be his anchor was framed as a tragedy on his part.

How can he be a victim of a crime that didn’t happen?


Who was this for?

What were they meant to feel?

What was I meant to feel?


I don’t know what I was supposed to learn, or what I was supposed to take away.


I don’t know anything about the woman at the heart of the story, and I don’t trust the narrator.


I don’t have a lot more to say.

@noffmag / [email protected]

Photo credit: Beatrice Debney