Artwork by Tim Judd. fb.me/Quillhook
Hush now, don’t fidget. I know it’s a long journey. It’s a long way to walk here. I’m tiring too. But it’s going to be worth it. This place is special. Just a couple more miles…
There. My feet are throbbing and I know you’re not happy, kicking me hard in the soft, red places to which you have such eye wateringly instant access. But you have to admit. This view is quite something. Don’t you think?
I brought you here so we could talk.
There is harsh white wind in my eyes, and stinging droplets of sky spittle pounding my exposed skin. Can you feel it? Does the agonising closeness, the unavoidable rawness that is the effects on my body of your wellbeing work both ways? I feel all your pain personally. Do you feel mine too?
I brought you here so we could talk. But now I don’t know how to start.
I realise you probably can’t actually see it. I’ll describe it instead. It might help to relax us. It might help us to chat.
Your Daddy and I, we used to come here. We used to stand here and look at the depth of that green in the trees at the skyline, and the way that, in winter, they lost their leaves, and glowered at us like dusky, grumbling skeletons, frowning beneath the dying light. There’s a quality to the grass, perhaps something in the wind, perhaps something more visceral, but it seems as though it’s always moving. As we stand here, now, there are huge numbers of individual green strands of grass stretching right out and down to the foot of those trees. They dance with us. With us, they breathe.
It’s taken me longer than I ever expected to get here. Things are difficult, carrying you. I don’t mean that as a grumble. It’s just you’re heavy, and I don’t get to chose how I hold you. So you weigh a little on my hips and my knees. When we came here before you, we used to race each other up here. Your Daddy always won.
I like to think he still does.
It’s taken me long enough that already, behind the treeline, the sun is spreading, melting into the horizon like burning red chocolate. I don’t know how we’re going to get back in the dark. You might have to guide me. I don’t know, really, but I always assumed you could see in the dark.
Which is brought you here to talk about. You see the thing is, I don’t think I can do this alone. I’m not being irresponsible, it’s just that, your Daddy and I when we planned things, well we assumed we’d be carrying you together. That you inside me would be a burden we cherished. Me carrying you. His hand in mine, carrying me.
And the accident, well that was an unforeseen circumstance. It was never a thing we wrote into the contract.
I’m sorry, by the way, about the alcohol the day they told me the news. I know you shared it. I imagine your tiny limbs grown thick and treacly, like mine, your throat raw in the morning, eyes red, stomach lurching. I’m sorry you had to follow me on my retreat into darkness.
But we’re going to have to become a team now. Because I don’t have anyone else and, while I’m being so brutally honest, the fact is that I’m just a little scared of you. I don’t know you. I don’t know you and I’ve somehow agreed, for at least eighteen years, to live alongside you. And we don’t know yet, that we have anything in common. Right now we don’t even speak the same language. And I don’t know if I can ever be ready for more crying. I’ve howled enough these last months, for us both.
So, if you don’t mind, and I know it’s a burden too heavy to place on your barely formed shoulders, but please could you stand here with me, just for a while?
So we can consider how we might manage to be there for each other. How I could carry you, if you could hold on to me. How it might, just sometimes, be OK to turn tables. And I’ll cry, and you can come and hold me.
Could you stand here with me, for a little while? While the sun melts into nowhere and the moon lights up the ghost trees. And your father’s footsteps are still warm in the grass.