10 Ways to Create Love by Hanne Larsson

  1. Make the paper by hand, sieving the pulp between mesh, hang to dry. When it accepts the ink, transcribe the poem you wrote to declare your feelings as you started courting.

  2. Look for a T-shirt – something that reflects you both – but you can’t settle on just one in-joke. Buy an e-gifted sheep for a farmer, claiming its wool coat reminds you of cotton. Laugh, leftover wedding champagne bubbling up your noses, as you plan your honeymoon.

  3. Teach yourself to stitch leather into a wallet featuring a picture window. But it’s complex – the stitching, that is – and you haven’t got the dexterity for patience and beauty. You’re gifted a corset in return, wearing it to an BDSM club. Its possibilities excite and petrify. You attempt to recreate it at home, matching it to your ovulation peaks.

  4. Grow rose garlands to line the stairs at your party, with fruit punch overflowing and balloons in one of two colours. Your husband is in bed with a headache, after too many the night before. Your wish for more than sex that year never arrived.

  5. Watch holes appear in your wedding log tealight centre piece, tiny perfect hollowed bumps. The sawdust underneath each collects ever higher in pyramid piles that you keep wiping, hoping they’re no sign. Your husband spends a good three hours in the workshop dosing it with woodworm treatment. It feels like a milestone.

  6. Hear the spun sugar crackle against your tongue, your house, you both – its webbed tackiness clinging. No amount of scrubbing washes it off. Suggest a trip to the fairground, walk its dust-bowl lanes trying to find that same teddy bear he won for you. The rides closed years ago; only a rusted past remains.

  7. Wake up to a sheep in the back garden. His lopsided smile is meant to melt you as he hands you its lead. But you crack, snap his failings out one by one, and he takes it, head bowed under the weight of your slivered heart pieces. Spend nearly a year to card its wool in grief: a tiny jumper no one will ever wear, a lockbox for your heart.

  8. Holiday in the Dead Sea to exercise your sadness away. You leave your blood and skin behind as you flounder out of the water. Salt-stung scratches heal red-raw, skin eventually glowing. Refreshed.

  9. Agree to open each other’s gifts together, smiles crinkling at the matching copper bracelets. Time for sore joints and life-wounds to be helped along.

  10. Peel all the labels off the tins for mystery meal excitement, giggling to yourself. He hands you a large film canister, directing you to the long-forbidden shed. Inside is a home cinema for two, where he’s cleverly spliced together your life, showing you how your heart still beats, even with the scars. You never stopped loving him, try as you might.

Hanne is a British Swede who longs for the 95% humidity and hawker centre food of her childhood. Her stories are fed by environmental science topics, moss-covered rocks masquerading as trolls and what-if scenarios. Her words can be found lurking in various web-nooks and print anthologies. She tweets: @hannelarsson

Image: unsplash.com