Heading North: Long Distance Running

Words by Madeleine Laing

Pictures by Talia Enright

Published on March 26, 2014

Two weeks seems like not enough time to really miss someone, but really I missed you from the second your mouth left mine, from the second you turned away to walk down my street and I went inside to cry over the kitchen sink. Only maybe four or five real tears, which seems to be the limit I can cry now before my body says enough. A couple of half-hearted sobs. No release for any actual sadness.

Maybe it’s because I’ve cried too much over boys already — the ones that were beautiful and dumb, or smart and scared — and there’s nothing left for you, the one who doesn’t fit into any of the categories I have for men who leave.

If I’m honest I missed you even when we were together. And you know I don’t mean together like it sounds, because we weren’t really that, I know. A thing, but not really, like, a thing. That’s what I tell people when they ask. When I try to explain why I’m drunk way too early, why I haven’t left the house in three days. ‘That sucks’, they say. ‘Life is shitty sometimes’.

I missed you when we were in the same city. When I would think about getting the train to your house in the middle of the night and how much you would hate that in your private, anxious way. I thought maybe I could talk you around, lie with my head on your chest for a few minutes before you turned away.

It’s not like I’m thinking about you all the time. When I’m dancing I don’t miss you. When I see bands and talk to my friends and am just the right amount of drunk I don’t think about you at all.

But there are other times, like when I’m walking home early in the morning in the weird industrial area that borders my dumb rich suburb, or when I’m in bed trying to remember how long it’s been since I changed my sheets. When I’m tired or hungover.  When I see poorly dressed couples fighting in the valley, and I remember how we only really ever argued about TV shows. I miss you when I drink the kind of scotch that my ex-boyfriend told me was good and I laugh, thinking about how you would only touch wine or vodka like a middle-aged housewife.

I miss you with my whole body; my legs ache with it. I walk faster and faster, trying to burn out the memory of your hands.  My chest is always sore, though that could be because I’ve been smoking too much and spending my asthma medication money on cigarettes. My head hurts and my stomach never really settles.

The physicality of your absence scares me. But it’s also a comfort in a way, to remember you so deeply. It seems permanent, even though everyone tells me I’ll stop feeling like this eventually.

I don’t know if I want to. I know you want me to. You told me not to wait, and I wouldn’t if I knew how to stop.


Madeleine Laing is a generally pretty happy Brisbane music writer whose work can be seen in The Music Brisbane or on whothehell.net or Four Thousand. You can find her on twitter @madeleinekl and riding the 199 bus most days.

Talia Enright  is a Brisbane-based chemistry student, bio writing unenthusiast and drawer of lines. She can be contacted by whispering her name upon a crisp autumn breeze or at feminerds.tumblr.com.