by C.S. Barnes
I come out here every night; I know he’s busy, but the law of odds – or averages, maybe – says that he’ll be here at some point. I bring my torch, because it gets especially dark at this time of year, and I shine, and I wait, and I shine.
Sometimes I talk to him, on the off-chance that he’s half-listening from somewhere else in the world. Or maybe he has a message system, or a personal assistant even; with a schedule like his he must have someone helping, and maybe they’re listening even when he’s not, taking notes, leaving small sticky memos all over the boss’s desk.
I’ve left The Old Girl on her own for five minutes, which I hate doing, but I couldn’t skip this because it’s her that I’ve come to talk to him about. She’s managed another syringe of water, another syringe of food, another disapproving stare when I tried my luck at forcing another one of each into her. She’s had enough, I can tell that by looking at her, and even though I’m not ready, I can see now that she nearly is.
With a wave I move the torch from one side of the sky to the other as though I can beckon to him via light signals. I flick the flash on and off and on. ‘Anybody home?’ I ask the empty field; the loud city; the sky. I lean against the structure – no idea what it used to be, but it supports me most nights now – and I set myself a time limit: if I haven’t heard from him in X number of minutes then I’ll just start talking; I’ll just hope for the best.
X becomes Y, becomes…
‘I don’t know whether you can hear me, but if someone can hear me, maybe they can take a message.’ There are train tracks of mascara down my cheeks from one of the earlier cries of today; I blink fresh tears into their pathways. ‘Make it easy for her,’ I say. ‘I don’t want you to take her, but you’re going to, I know that now. So, if you can do me a favour, which I think you owe me –’ My voice sharpens. I’m stern when I should be pleading but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry, confused too, but mostly angry. ‘Let her go to sleep.’ There’s more but I have to steady my breathing, myself, before it will come. ‘Let her go to sleep, and when she gets to you, tell her that I love her, and I miss her, and I’ll see her someday soon.’
With a make-up stained sleeve, I wipe away tears, breathe deeply; she’ll hear it in my voice if I’m crying when I get back. I thank him, whoever, for listening and flick the flash off and on and off before I follow my tread marks home.