To The Bloke I Fall Over In Front Of
by EL Appleby
The first time I fell over in front of you the ground was icy. I had an excuse. Nevertheless, I had managed the entire journey without incident up to that point, skirting the glassy puddles with ease before going arse-over-tit at the exact moment you stepped out of your van.
As I lay flat on my back on the frozen ground, the early morning light shone like a halo around your head. For a moment, I thought you were Jesus.
I know I flashed my knickers at you, and I’d like to apologise for that. It was washing day. A day later and you would have copped an eyeful of something more lacy. And less grey.
I thought you were going to walk away and leave me sprawled on the pavement like a discarded Friday night kebab. I wish you had. Instead you leaned over and shone your Jesus face at me. I thought I’d been saved until I saw the look on your face. Old, your eyes said. Then your eyebrows and nose joined in, way too old.
I’m not that ancient, Bloke I Fall Over In Front Of, there’s plenty of life left in this old bird.
Your look of relief when I said I was fine was like an arrow through my heart. If you’d met me twenty years ago, you would have insisted on helping me up, you’d probably have asked for my number and I’d probably have given it to you. Of course, twenty years ago you’d have been about two years old, but you see what I’m getting at.
The second time I fell over in front of you was intricately entwined with the first. If the first hadn’t happened, there would have been no need for the second. I have learned, over the course of my many years (though not as many as you clearly assume), that life is one long chain of events. From the moment you are squeezed out of the womb, one thing leads to another, leads to another, leads to another…
If I hadn’t been so intent on avoiding you, I wouldn’t have dived into the hedge, and I wouldn’t have fallen into the ditch, cleverly concealed under the knee-high undergrowth. So you see, BIFOIFO, this one’s down to you. Maybe if you’d been nicer to me the first time, I’d have been able to walk past you with my head held high. Maybe you should remember that the next time a young, forty-something lady falls over in front of you.
It was a few days after washing day that time, so I had a fresh supply. I was wearing the white lacy ones that tie up at the sides. I’d woken up feeling a little frisky. Yes, it still happens, even at my grand old age. Of course, by the time you got to see them, they were brown and muddy from the ditchwater, but I can assure you, they were white when I put them on.
You ran over to help me this time, to your credit, with genuine concern on your face. But I wasn’t expecting it, so you can’t really blame me for refusing your help. It was silly of me, in retrospect, to pretend that I’d meant to fall in the ditch, but I was flustered. Regardless, there was really no need to back away like that, shaking your head. It was nothing short of rude.
Perhaps you think I’m too old to make mistakes, to say silly things, to fall into ditches. The problem with youth is that you think you’re going to grow up. You think there’ll come a time when it all makes sense and you won’t fuck up anymore. Well I’m sorry, BIFOIFO, but I’m not sure that time ever comes. I may be a little less reckless than I was at your age, but I’m none the wiser. This world is still as much of a mystery to me as it ever was. The only differences are that I can’t hold my drink anymore, and eating bread gives me wind.
The third time I fell over in front of you, and I really hope it will be the last, was probably the most humiliating. Admittedly, you are quite a handsome young man and you do make me a little unsteady on my feet, but this time I’d decided to walk past you, head held high, as I should have done the last time.
It probably wasn’t wise to hold my head quite so high, whilst walking across the piece of grass affectionately known as Dog Shit Green. So it wasn’t so surprising that I skidded on the biggest Great Dane of a turd, and fell flat on my back. Again.
I can’t believe you actually ran away, though. What is wrong with you? I’m hardly a threat. It’s not like I’m following you around and chucking myself at your feet. Okay, I can see that might be what it looks like, but it’s simply not the case. I’m not some crazed stalker. Which is why I’m writing this letter, to set a few things straight.
I did, of course, have to follow you home to get your address.
But I didn’t fall over once.
The Lady Who Falls Over In Front Of You
Inspired in part by an icy slip on a frozen puddle, and in part by s. asher sund’s fabulous sudden fiction – a new post every day. Pop over to his place -it’s well worth a visit. Have a peek at Dear Eddie Vedder or my absolute all time favourite: New Crayola Color: “Stepmom Cheryl”