She used to say ‘Oh, stop it’ and smiley frown hit his chest with the side of her fist, sometimes thumping it once as if to open a stuck shut suitcase, sometimes drumming on his sternum to shock his heart back to life. He would laugh and the clouds would darken then clear from her face and she would turn and walk away, he hoped hiding a smile.
The one day she turned a corner and when he got there she was gone, not hiding behind the hedges or disappearing on a bus. Just gone.
Stand smiling like an idiot.
Think about calling.
Turn around in circles, both ways.
Go back to the corner and look up to the sky.
Perch on the low brick wall where the hedge ends and check your phone for messages.
Look around again.
Let time pass.
Look at the pavement, look around the corner, look at the sky.
Walk home and close the door quietly.
Years later, after the tears, the police, the almost forgetting then the sudden remembering like lightning cracking the sky, years later, he wrote his story and put it on his blog.
Days later, when the story had been and gone and there had been only one click, there was a single sharp knock at his door. In the silence it knocked at his heart like a small clenched fist. He went to the door and listened.
I sat there among the young ones, my house and hope gone. The photographer must have thought I’d make a moving picture as I hunched forward, face in my hands, my daughter looking away from me. He must have knelt on the muddy torn grass to place the clever metaphoric clouds in my background. He must have made a noise to make me look round. But I did not look at him when I turned round, I looked at the man with the gun and the knife, who left only me to tell the story. And the camera he took from the photographer’s hand.
Can also be seen at http://spontaneity.org/issue02/i-sat-there-among-the-young-ones/
Tim’s stories hopped. They didn’t stalk or leap or glide or weave; they hopped. He looked at them hopping and carried them back.
Today we should have been flying back from our holiday at the sea, hair dried, skin scorched, sun in our blood, sun singing in our dreams.
We should have been waving goodbye from the windows of the plane, promising ourselves we wouldn’t forget and that we would come again. The palm trees should have been greyed in the failing light, whipping in the dusted wind of sunfall.
Should have been. We should have been. We should have been looking forward through the sunset-tinted shades of our contentedness, our unexcited happiness, looking forward to our future, our future together, our future continuing.
I should have been looking, I should have been watching, I should have been paying attention. I should have been careful.
I’ll come back and visit you. I’ll talk to you. I’ll bring an old black umbrella and use it as a sunshade and sit or stand and look out at the sea every day. And then I’ll leave the umbrella, the now sun-faded and salt-stained was-black umbrella, I’ll leave it lying on the rocks and join you in the water.