December 2018

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There are ways to pinpoint exactly when someone goes from dying to dead, but I'm not here for a candlelight vigil. If he's not gone yet, he will be soon. I light the fuse with his lighter because he deserves the insult and the injury. The explosion feels like music.

- - - - -

This is security, this penthouse cell with 200 feet of elevator shaft and three locked doors between my luxury prison and the glittering wasteland below. It's expensive to be untouchable and the highest price is paid in unspoken loss and longing. I'm sorry.

- - - - -

An impenetrable fortress can have high stone walls and towers with arrow slits for windows. Or it can be built from bone and skin, skull-shaped with a smile, the most defensive of weapons. The boiling oil may have cooled but the portcullis no longer lifts.

- - - - -

They usually fold their clothes neatly by the shore, but I've never been that organised. I didn't hear you shouting before I felt your arms around me, trailing me back from the next wave. The sand in my shoes is a memento of the night I gave up, the night you found me. 

- - - - -

Warm boots crunch past at eye-level, voices blurred above, mingling with the frost of breath. Touching her own face, ice against ice, still solid, but barely. She melts into concrete, days upon days, until finally someone looks down and sees nobody there. 

- - - - -

Right now, in this particular moment, there is only stillness. Opportunity may knock. Determination may thunder past in a chariot of anxiety. But acceptance will arrive gently and quietly, wrapping itself around you, asking nothing of you other than just to be.

- - - - -

barefoot by cold sand and moonlight
pyjama-clad and coat-wrapped
the beach and 2am are mine

tears steal away hushed
and the tide crawls closer
salt calls to salt

fingernails pierce palms and
this too shall pass
is not a wholly optimistic statement 

- - - - -

In a pale slide of hollow bones, she sits on the pavement next to him and they are both below, hidden. She cradles his last breath in hands of cold comfort, meets his eye and whispers him across, "You died gently. I see you. You are mine."

- - - - -

Streetlights through colonies of raindrops fragment and illuminate my hands on the wheel. The windscreen gathers kaleidoscopic rivers of fire and I don't remember blinking. Do we ever remember blinking?

Headlights and wiper blades.

Empty glass and reality returns.

- - - - -

cold sun rises slow to the watery
half-height of afternoon morning
frost lit like magic, unmelting

rings slip around fingers
pale purple, ice-shrunken
breath wishes hours to vapour

december
sweet hunter, my
winter she dances again 

- - - - -

He believes himself inimitable, supreme. With his feet up on an otherwise empty desk, he can't ignore the voices outside. "They're just jealous," bleat the ones he pays for worship.

His coat tails are frayed now, disintegrating.

He looks the other way.

- - - - -

"But Dad, I'm NOT lying! I DID see a ghost!"

A battleship hand sinks a small soul again and she shrinks to her bedroom, lesson learned. Be quiet. Expect nothing.

I lean through the wall by her bed. "It's OK, sweetheart. I'll make sure he never hurts you again."

- - - - -

Slivers of silver-white sunlight slide through the gap in the curtains and hazily hand me Sunday's expectation. Not a demand or requirement, but a sweet possibility, gentle potential, a kinder reminder to accept and connect with only who I already am today. 

- - - - -

He arrives empty-handed but he carries his past in his eyes. His past, yours, everyone's but mine. With a nod of recognition, I welcome him by name.

"It's been a while, Time."

He returns the gesture.

"Busy days, Death. Busy days."

- - - - -

Inevitable and invisible, they look at anything but me. I have one of those faces. The face of a skull, of a clock, of the light you see at the end. Or what you think is the end. There's one almost ready and I stand close by, arms outstretched, until.

- - - - -

For now, I sink into the role of the solitary wanderer, the hermit, the seeking archetype. Maybe it's not who I am but it's as real as any other decision I ever made. At least it keeps people out of harm's way. Out of my way. For now.

- - - - -

"If you find a job you enjoy, you're lucky. If you find one that doesn't totally suck out your soul, you're doing OK."

"Do you enjoy this?" There's a shake to his voice but he's trying.

I pull the trigger.

He slumps forward.

It doesn't totally suck out my soul. 

- - - - -

Sometimes it feels too big, thinking about life as an entire thing, from the first day to the last. I don't have much to do with anyone's first days, but I've made a few lasts happen. Maybe I owe it to them, to understand the scale of it all.

- - - - -

I haven't lost my mind, but I misplace parts of it from time to time. It's the nature of the job. You have to pack so much away and sometimes you forget where you left it. My tools are always right there, but my memories are harder to reach for.

- - - - -

You don't master it, but you get better at not feeling anything. You get better at talking other people through it until guilt is no longer in your vocabulary. And the ones who feel nothing right from the start, you know them as kindred spirits.

- - - - -

I don't indulge in this. It's not a hedonistic pursuit. It's necessary. It shuts down most of the continuous streams of awareness that flood the mess inside my skull and leaves only a manageable amount running. It's never quiet here, never completely still. 

- - - - -

It's all "new year, new you, new beginning", but remember the old you. The you built from every experience you've ever had got you this far. Don't jettison her. She is your foundation. Wrap her in a warm cocoon of acceptance and allow her to evolve. 

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