In my next story my mother will be alive. In my next story the factory hooter will still sound at five o’clock and the men will walk out, boots tramping on cobbles. Pub snugs will glow amber, kids will hang on the corner in hope. Dad’s will say, “Bugger off, ‘ome to yer Mam. I’ll see yer later.”
Was it simpler then? Full English, red or brown sauce? My mother, needle, thimble, thread. My mother ruh-thunkety-ruh, treadling at the Singer, running up gingham frocks, Whitsun clothes, red ties, Jesus.
Half-pennies filed flat on the red-brick porch for the meter, narrow streets, bobbies. Empty pantries Wednesday, pay-day Friday, Echo Margarine, porridge, coats on the bed.
It’s a boiler-breakdown, my love, not a bad night in Aleppo. There are no kids outside with Kalashnikovs. You can share my duvet. The plumber will come, eventually.
Did we buy a bigger bed? I can’t remember. Is this bed bigger or is the room shrinking? Do you have to go on your phone? Wanna cuddle up?
I always thought Dad would go first, you know, after the accident, his fags, the beer, him deciding to be old, all the bitterness, the hoarded sweets. I thought he’d go.
Wasn’t a great a funeral, was it? I guess if you hang on too lang, all your friends are dead. I’m sorry about the wake. I wasn’t going to drink at all, but there you go. Maybe I was sad.
Can you stop texting, just for five minutes? Did I tell you the story, this is true, about the monk who told some King about a sparrow?
They were having a banquet, in this huge fucking hall. The king was a heathen and the monk was his guest. The monk was trying to explain God.
This sparrow flies into this huge hall, swoops down to the king, swoops up and disappears out of the other end of the hall.
Did you see that sparrow? Asks the monk. The king says yes.
You don’t know where the sparrow came from, you don’t know where it is, where it’s going. But the sparrow is real, and for a second we were all together. This is us; where we come from, where we go, our life is just the here, for a short time. Outside is God.
Please put down the phone. Hold me.