“Why don’t you try thinking about it another way?” Leon frowned at Kira. “You never seem to deviate from this position of not being good enough.”
“Look, there is no other way to think about it. I have a job to do. That has been the case ever since I met him. I am the problem.”
“Why do you feel you have to work so hard for his affection? He won’t even speak to you.” Leon screwed up his face. Your non-relationship makes no sense?”
“It makes perfect sense to us. I can’t bear to look at him, he can’t bear to look at me. Every time we go anywhere near each other one of us ends up extremely upset. It is much safer if we avoid each other.”
“But you said he seemed quite pleased to see you?”
“Yes, and I was pleased to see him, but it is in the nature of our awkward characters that it is always teetering on the edge of a huge fight. Negotiation is bound to be difficult.”
“He seems to be winning on that front.” Leon pursed his lips. Kira was different since she had met Sam. Less anxious, and yet still consumed by Sam. If anything, more than ever.
“Not at all. I still lack confidence, and I am too easily distracted. This is about head space, and life goals. It is not about ordinary things at all. If it was I would starve for a year and turn up in a bikini with some exceptionally good aphrodisiac, now wouldn’t I? What on earth would be the point in that? He has plenty of women. Even I wouldn’t be crazy enough to dissuade him from such a convenient and comfortable arrangement if that’s what he wants.”
“What about what you want?”
“I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to be unhappy. Neither of us will be happy until I do the damned work, regardless of how he arranges things with his genitalia.” Kira was growling now, impatiently twitching at the computer.
“But you said he didn’t know anything about what you were doing? Isn’t he just an asshole really? What do you get out of this?”
“Being difficult or unaware doesn’t make you an automatic asshole, I’d just like to point that out. You are right, of course, but if I remember correctly, I was being an actual asshole the last time we had any dealings with each other, because I was hurt. Sam doesn’t usually tolerate ‘feels,’ for all his chosen pithiness.” Kira looked blank. “Trust me, it is much easier if we make it a public only relationship. I don’t want to have to eat his cubs anyway. That is what lions do.” Kira got up and rubbed her sore back. “I just want to kick his ass with impunity, and nine years ago there was no question of my ever getting to do that. He can keep his bits to himself apart from that if he wants. I just love the idea of making him bloom, and for that he needs to be challenged now and again. Safely, by someone who cares. It is in the grand tradition of the super-Greeks.”
“I wish somebody loved me like that. Have you ever considered that maybe he loves you too?”
“God no. Trust me, you would not want an imaginary relationship this contorted.”
“Why not? Maybe he longs for a soft cuddly twin who doesn’t take any shit from him.”
“I think Sam’s love of control is well established. I don’t want to end up looking pinched and terrified. I want to be loved, not moulded, thank you. Besides, can you imagine how the Yanks would take a fat chick? America hates women, never mind women who don’t conform to the delusional rules of trophy-hunting success. I’m not in the business of ruining careers.”
“Is that why you’re hitting on the Foreign Secretary?” Leon was quite pleased with this development, especially as it meant a host of new opportunities emerging from Kira’s creative brain.
“No, I actually like the Foreign Secretary, and he is big and kind enough not to mind me creatively crying on his shoulder.” Kira looked up. “Besides which, he needs a good shake too. His health needs some attention. Nagging from crazy strangers is almost tolerable.”
“Everyone will assume you agree with his politics, however. They may not take it well.”
“They can take it however they want. He is the only one in the party that cares about the public or credits them with any brains at all. If the English will insist on continuing to vote for them, we might as well give the UK to the only decent one, assuming we can woo him away from his evil paymasters at some point.”
“Can we do that?” Leon stared at the wall. This was so bonkers, it actually might work.
“Of course we can.” Kira rethreaded her needle as she worked on her latest figurative work. “We can do whatever we like.”
“You used to say that to your mother.” Leon smiled.
“She is still here, so I am still saying it to her.” Kira nodded towards the large flowered tube on the table. “Poor mum. Why are people so stupid?”
“They do what the Reich tells them, and the Reich wants anyone disabled dead.”
“True. Let us not talk of it just now. We need to get another grant application in.”
“When is it due?”
“Are you crazy? People work on these things for months!” Leon was dumbfounded.
“I only found out this morning. I just need a few photographs. I will write it up tonight.” Kira seemed remarkably calm. “I’ve been writing business plans for years. It isn’t difficult.” Kira smiled. “I could even make an application for ‘beneficial to the community’ schemes and include the new project.”
“There is nothing beneficial to the community about the Conservative party.” Leon spluttered. “Especially not as you seem hell-bent on promoting the Foreign Secretary, of all people.”
“Everything will be fine. A national-scale project will help enormously with the scheme for Sam. I had better finish some of the old stuff though, just in case anybody ever actually buys any of it.” Kira’s work had not sold recently. She seemed blissfully unconcerned, as she did not rely on it for income. Kira’s life seemed to be a very long learning curve. Leon wondered if she realised how little time she had to perfect the over-arching work-of-art that was her endlessly expanding brain. “Don’t worry, Leon. I just need to get more work to fund it. Look what fun I had after Brexit, and it didn’t cost me anything at all!”
“So, basically the idea is we get the Foreign Secretary, who is just as crazy as you, into Number 10. Then what?”
“Then I will need a proper publisher to appear, as if by magic, and take the Conservative books I am working on. Once I have a publisher, it will then be time to return to the original book, which theoretically removes all politics as we know it and creates an entirely new landscape for debate. Sam has no idea how clever he is. I shall take great delight in presenting it to him.” A twinkle seemed to sparkle in Kira’s eye as she glanced at Leon.
“Are you sure he is the clever one?”
“He is the key to my lock. Why do you think I hold him in such precious esteem, even when he insists on being silly? There is nothing either of us can do about that. We shall just have to make it a rhetorical question.” Kira seemed to be glowing as she smiled, and returned to her sewing.