By Rachel Donald All Rights Reserved ©



Hello you -

I suppose you’ve reached the end for now. I hope you didn’t skip anything, as was one of your worst habits; there were more than a few occasions I saw you cradling the spine of a book as you thumbed through its final pages before having glanced at Chapter One. Your impatience was a steady constant behind the glaze over your eyes, but never pronounced. I can guess, now, it is one of the reasons I am here and you are not.

I don’t doubt you recognise yourself, although I changed your name, of course. I often wonder if it is strange for you to see our fleeting past imprinted and bound for eternity considering the vast space of bars and white blocks that will never allow for a future to settle in its habitat, like wind chasing ash from a cigarette.

We did have a future once. I know, despite your life of running - always running, without pause even for your wild heart - I know that future still flickers on your brain like the shadow of a candle. The nights spent talking and debating, even discussing our own political party for when the storm passed. We planned and plotted our greatest ideas together. But the endlessness of those ideas was exhausting, and they milked me from my own breast. They hung from my nipples like hyenas crashing and flailing against my knees with every step forward I took. Then we became so intent on that action of moving forward to release them into the City that we forgot to keep talking.

I remember one burning spring morning when the sun beat down with the strength of an anvil among the glass paving the street, so that hundreds more suns danced in the green shards, voluntarily, it seemed, and certainly not bottled. They were like crystals stained with purity and, at that moment, I thought London could be saved. But I had no idea walking among those suns would bleed the life from our own feet first.

There was so much violence. So many oscillations. Like a child at the highest point on a swing, the action made me feel heedlessly launched having found flight without wings and only concrete to fly over, to land on. But the talking was worse - coming down from that high arc, still seated, feeling my organs flip and twist, mistreated and abused in the desperate plunge back to earth where everything looked as it always had.

No palm, no chest, can - or should - protect me from my own eyes.

But I found a balance. A point at which my feet stuck forward as I smashed through the arc whipping the chains into motion. I found the time, here, in this place which is not so different from the burning London I left that trapped me within my own smoke-filled lungs. I found time in this small room gazing at the same view that shifts only in colour, never in form, to remember the smooth thickness of paper and the weight of my tool like a shadowed muscle. Maybe even a gun, or perhaps a radio. Or a bridge - a bridge upon which the figures I talked and fought for can freely dance and cross to meet you on the other side, wherever you are now. Wherever you are running to.

I can’t run anymore. Even if that door were to open I would not. London is too easy to be lost in among the eyes fixed on their own feet and the secrets of the future blurring into mere cracks on the pavement.

Perhaps one day you will stop, too. Perhaps you will go back, and I will be released into the city, and our eyes will meet across a crowded market under a blue sky resurrected from the past. Then the time for questions will have passed.

My role has ended, for now, but you know the story has not. Everyone knows it cannot end there. Such knowledge is printed in our genes, not on paper to be passed on and thumbed, fading with the ink; this language we speak is more than black on white. It is more than words. So all you need to do is ask yourself this:

What would you have done?

Forgive me, and know that, of course, I loved you.


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