Distance & Desire

Share this

This is a story about distance. The distance between people; and the distance between the way things are now, and the way they were then.

In the February of 2006, I heard, for the first time in five long and cold months, from my former best friend. (I’ll call her Marianne, after Jane Austen’s emotionally incontinent but lovable Dashwood sister.) Marianne re-opened communication with a text: ‘What do you think of Rufus Wainwright? He sings in this film, Brokeback Mountain. Come see it with me. I want you to!’

Marianne and I had been – that lovely word – ‘intimates’ for the best part of a decade. Our children moved as a pack; we took refuge in each other’s kitchens, swapped talents and baby clothes. We holidayed together, godparented for each other, talked on the phone at least once a day. When my husband smashed his knee in a fall, it was Marianne who baby-sat while I rushed to the hospital; when her childhood OCD flared up and made her too scared to move house, it was me who talked her through the door. I spoke proudly of her as ‘the sister I never had’; we even looked similar.

And then suddenly, the intimacy ceased. First, she said one of my children was ‘copying’ one of hers. Then she stopped answering the phone if I rang. After a month or so, I took round a birthday present for her daughter; though Marianne opened the door and accepted the present, she didn’t smile or invite me in. For reasons I couldn’t untangle, the friendship was over. It was like a death, and I had spent the months since in mourning.

Now here she was, demanding I see Ang Lee’s adaptation of an Annie Proulx short story about a pair of cowboys falling in love. I was wary. But when Marianne wanted something, she wanted it wholesale, consumingly. And I had missed her so. So along I went, and sat dutifully in a dark suburban cinema, watching two lonely young American men coping, or failing to cope, with their homosexuality. Rufus Wainwrig

Subscribe or sign in to read the full article

The full version of this article is only available to subscribers to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly. To continue reading, please sign in or take out a subscription to the quarterly magazine for yourself or as a gift for a fellow booklover. Both gift givers and gift recipients receive access to the full online archive of articles along with many other benefits, such as preferential prices for all books and goods in our online shop and offers from a number of like-minded organizations. Find out more on our subscriptions page.

Subscribe now or

About the contributor

Liz Forsyth is a writer and editor based in London. She’s just started reading Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, but doesn’t, as yet, have any friends who’ve moved to Newfoundland.

Share this

Comments & Reviews

Leave a comment

Customise this page for easy reading

reading mode