Finally. The day is winding down. The guests have all retired, except the raven that coughs on the watery branch above. The dense dark descends, a too huge blanket on a frail child’s form, damp and suffocating pressing the day down and down towards and into the earth. Another and another and another will come.
My senses diminish with what I used to call time. Time, that smoky, tissuey thing that cannot be held or stored or made to bend to our will. That intransigent thing that slips through our fingers as sand, regardless of how much we scrabble and scurry, save and check. Make all the clocks in the world – you cannot hold time.
I burrow into my bed, a tick in winters nest, I am pressed in snug and still. A stranger has come to my bed, no longer a stranger. Here I lie, lie lightly, cossetted in white windings. A sumptuous enveloping of satiny embrace. I turn my eyes to look at the non-stranger beside me.
“How long have you been waiting?”
I should feel cold but I don’t. I should feel something, but, do I? It does not seem to matter, I have no regard for feelings. Feelings for those in their snug homes who chafe and rage, feelings for those who keen and sigh, feelings for the once spectacular morning skies lit sapphire that caresses the wing of the coal-black raven and dapples the cheek of the merry child. What need have I for feelings?
A memory stirs. A man, I remember a man. Through a veil his image strides forwards, arms held as if awaiting an embrace. He is a solid man, a worthy man. A man who meant something – once. And his features make the back of my mind tickle, like a surgeon with his electrode as he probes the exposed brain to stimulate a response. I am not aware of a response. All there is, is white and dark. White windings and the non-stranger.
“I cannot tell.”
I turn within my cocoon, hugging me to myself, hugging the non-stranger to myself, if I could smile I would. And the once me sinks lower under the sod. I sleep in my narrow trough.