I love you, K

I love you, K. His last words before the plane takes off. Every time. And every time he starts the car. He could not remember when he had started saying it. Perhaps after that time in north Africa when the taxi they had hired for the day played a prayer when the key was turned.

I love you, K. He does not know why, either. It is not as if it cleanses his sins, and he does not believe in sins or prayers in any case.

I love you, K. He says it under his breath so nobody knows, not even K sitting beside him. But of course he is mostly alone when he drives and does not know anyone near him when he flies.

I love you, K. Perhaps he wants it to be the last words to pass his lips if something happens. His heart and his lips would be honest and true. And perhaps, if something does happen, K will somehow know, the words will hang in the air or the ether.

I love you, K. Perhaps they will.

The men sit on the granite slab

The story would come later, when the harp has faded and the fingers stilled.

The men sit on the granite slab, facing the water.

The boat will come soon.
Will you go?
Will you?
It will be a day coming and the winds may move. In the meantime they may move.
No. No, not this time.

The dog crouches, ears pricked, watching for rabbits, hearing the catch in the men’s soft voices.

I’ll not go.
Nor I.
The boat will be here soon.
Not I.

Time passes, touching even the granite. Split in three pieces it stands, each man’s name carved deep in the redness.

Who were they, do you think?
When the boat came they went, two to the mountains and one to the sea. And then they were lost to the men or to the waves. And nobody tells their story no more.

Wind blows, spattering foam. Hand touches shoulder.

Are you crying?
No. No, I’m not crying.

A bonfire?

Shall we have a bonfire, you ask? A bonfire, yes, an excellent fire that burns bones until our very scaffold of humanity cracks and crumbles into the original dust, and the dogs from the forest when all the people have gone will curl upwind from the embers, backs to the glow, one eye on the darkness….

What? Oh yes. Probably a few sparklers and some toffee apples for the youngsters. Roberta’s bringing quiche.

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow

Joel was parked illegally, running to the bank and back. He needed cash to buy Halloween treats and souvenirs at the market before it closed at midday. The kids would never forgive him if he forgot.

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

A truck from out of town missed his car by a finger, throwing up a cloud of dust. Sweat washed into his eyes. He blinked and wiped his face with his forearm. Wearing a waistcoat had been a mistake. The scar between his shoulderblades itched.

‘Hey! Hey, young man!’ As the dust settled he saw her, tall as his ribs, old as his grandmother would have been.

‘Hey! Young man!’ She was pointing at him, her dark eyes bright.
‘Yes auntie, what can I do for you?’
‘The cemetery. When are you going to the cemetery?’

Joel looked around. The sweat on his back trickled cold.

‘I can go to the cemetery now auntie.’ The market would still be open later. She got into the back of the car.

He looked in the mirror but could not see her. ‘It’s hot, isn’t it auntie? Too hot for the season.’ There was no reply but Joel could hear her voice. Perhaps she was praying.

More trucks passed, spitting up gravel. Joel paused, engine running. The sun was hot and damp through the dusty windscreen.

Joel’s phone chirruped. His wife. Don’t forget.

The voice behind him stopped. The silence was louder than the voice had been.

The cemetery was not far if you ignored the No Entry sign and cut through the parking lot. Joel usually went that way when he was heading out of town on the cemetery road, when he was on his own. But today it could have seemed disrespectful.

Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

He drove slowly through the dust, all windows tightly closed. A cloud in the shape of a fist or a stone covered the sun. There was no air. Joel sweated.

‘I have to say hello to my children.’ Joel started. He had almost forgotten she was there, almost forgotten he was going to the cemetery on the day of the ghosts. He pulled up next to the fountain outside the cemetery gate. Its water was still and green.

‘Your children, auntie?’ They must be as old as his father would have been.

‘I go to see them every day since they left. Every day I say hello.’

‘Hello, auntie? Or goodbye?’ He did not know where the question came from.

‘I shall never say goodbye to them. They are still here. They walk in my heart. Today and tomorrow they are with the saints. And soon I will be with them too.’

Chirrup. Daddy….

He turned the phone over on the seat next to him.

‘Every day since they went away. Every day.’

Joel gripped the steering wheel and more clouds rolled across the sun, heavy, electric. He breathed in. ‘What happened, auntie?’

And she told him. And when she had slowly, unsteadily, got out of the car, he gripped the wheel still tighter and cried. Ghosts today, saints tomorrow, and then the dead.

When he arrived at the market, all the stalls were closed.

Thank you for being

Thank you for being here with me
Thank you for being

Thank you for being my friend
Thank you for being

Thank you for being you
Thank you for being

Thank you for being my friend
Thank you for being

Thank you for being here with me
Thank you for being