She's parked up next to my bench again and I've seen her before. I've seen her in her big black car, seen her getting out and leaning on it sometimes.
I'm not feeling good. The birds come over, but I can't talk to them. The grey ones wait, but I don't know what to say. I try to stand up and I can't, like there are ropes round my chest, tight and heavy. Big ropes all holding me down.
She opens the window and she's looking out at me. I want to talk to her too, like the birds, but I can't. I don't know what to say. My breath can't find my words. So I lie down on my bench, lie down and close my eyes. It's cold, but I'm not cold. I'm sweating and my stomach's turning in circles, dancing.
I wrap my arms around myself and it hurts in my arm. I watch the birds, wait for messages. They look at me and I can feel them telling me not to be scared. I'm not scared though. I stopped being scared a long time ago. I've got nothing left to be scared of. It's all turned full circle and I'm here again.
Next thing I know, she's out of the car and over beside me. She has a stick she uses to walk, but she isn't broken. She's strong and she feels like the earth.
She says, "Are you OK?" and I try to say something back but I can't. No breath or no words or no breath in my words.
"What's your name?" she says and I try to tell her, but my name gets stuck in my throat.
She asks me, "Can I call someone for you?" and I think about it, but there isn't anyone to call.
She says, "I'm Mercy." I know she is. I try to smile at her and I guess I manage it a bit because she smiles back at me, but she looks worried.
I can't keep my eyes open. It's too bright behind her. I want to look at her, but it's too bright and my eyes hurt.
She says, "I'm going to call an ambulance for you and I'm going to wait with you until they come, alright? I'm not going to leave you."
All this time and someone isn't going to leave.
I can hear the birds now, all the messages. It's going to be OK. I believe them. She's telling me it's going to be OK too and I believe her.
I can hear her talking, telling someone about me. She says, "No, there's no smell of alcohol. I've seen him here before, but he's always been sitting up or walking around. He's lying down now, breathing and he has a pulse, but he's pretty unresponsive and he looks really sick."
She tells them where we are, where my bench is, and she tells them to hurry. They don't have to hurry. I'm going to be OK. The birds said. She talks some more. I can't hear the words, but I know her voice.
The blue lights come. I can see them through the skin of my eyes. I hear her talking again, talking to them. I try to open my eyes, but I can't. And I can't talk. But the birds are here, my birds, even with all the noise, they're still here. They didn't leave either.
And someone's talking. Not her, but someone else. They're asking me things, but I don't understand. And they're lifting me and putting me onto something, lying down. It all starts moving and I open my eyes and for a moment I can see. Only for a moment, but it's long enough.
I see them. Not the people and not the birds either. But the rest of them. They're shining.
And they're reaching out to me, all of them. They've been waiting for me.
All their faces are one face and I know them.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...