She was a woman who knew what she liked and she liked most things.

She liked him.

A man who only liked what he knew.


He liked facts.

Paintings of things that were real things and that looked like the real things they were paintings of.

Why would you bother, otherwise?

Not airy fairy whimsical throwaway bullshit.


Facts which stood like blocks of granite carved by elders.

Truths he could touch.


He felt safe with numbers.

You couldn’t argue with them.

2+2, for him, would always = 4.

And nothing would always be nothing.


‘But nothing is never just nothing,’ she said one night.

His body as far from hers as a body can be in a bed.

She was hoping to meet in the middle.

‘Go to sleep,’ he said. ‘It’s late.’


Lately she’d come to know her place.

All night she thought of nothing.

How there was something, not nothing, in the space between them.

She thought of how that perfect O she dreamt of,

The ring he hadn’t put on her finger.

How that wasn’t nothing either.


And she remembered her ancient maths lessons and thought of how he was wrong.

Because it was not the number itself, but where it stood,

that determined its value.

Should she, in the morning, take a notepad?

And, smiling beguilingly, write down the number 10?

Give him a lesson on place value?

Should she explain how powerful nothing can be?

Show him how the zero gives value to the one on its left?

How it would only be one without it?

Or should she just dump him and let him figure it out for himself?