I was distracted by the fishing boat. It had just come in, its lights still ablaze, shocking the morning dark. I was watching one of the fishermen. A thin young man, his fleece tucked awkwardly into his luminous white waterproof trousers. He had climbed out of the craft and was pulling a ragged length of twine ready to hook it up onto a metal post. Then I felt it. A smooth sliding. My right foot slipping into it. Mud? No. Dog poo. Shit. I walked on waiting for the smell to assail me. Nothing, as yet. Should I go down to the sea to wash it off? No, there’s a puddle, that should do. Then another. Try to forget it. It isn’t personal. It isn’t a portent. No.
Lights. Significant lights in the dark. Magical lights. Fairy lights. The fair has come to town. There has always been a fair here in November, he tells me. I can’t stand them, he says. No. They always fascinated me. The danger of them. Those odours, sweet and cloying, in the dark. The promise of something sinister, forbidden. Dirty hands. Hands smelling of metal. We drive past in the daylight. It is nothing then. The rides all folded up. The lights off. Nothing. At night the lights are marvellous. A marvel. So much blue. And noise. We won’t go but I think about it nevertheless. I go there in my dreams.
Then there was lorry, the other morning. It came rolling down the hill past the pier. All lit up like a Christmas tree. Magnificent. It caught my breath. Steaming forward. Wreathed in lights.
The day before on route to Barrow upon Soar we saw a tree. A symbol of a tree. Gigantic. A swirl of lights made up to look like a tree. And it wasn’t even dark yet.
I disturb a ginger cat worrying away at a Burger King box. He scampers away.
What do you dream of? Do you wake up with the remnants of a conversation in head? The other morning I woke with the phrase ‘ the men’s tiger wards’ in my mind. The night before I dreamt someone had severed the middle finger on my left hand. It didn’t hurt but I wept for the work I could no longer do.
I call her. I don’t find it easy. Putting it off. I never did like telephones, let alone when one has to speak in a foreign tongue. Though it is less foreign then it was. The staff at the home don’t speak English, why should they? They seem gentle. She is glad to hear my voice. She always remembers me but not when I have visited. I’ll come soon, I say, in the Spring. Yes, she says. I ask about the weather. It is nice, for Spring, she says. Lots of sun. She tells me again that she is in an institution. Everyone is very nice, she says, there are lots of men and women here. Give my love to everyone, she says, especially to your Dad. I won’t tell her again. I won’t tell her that he is dead. Not again. It doesn’t matter. I have loved speaking to you, she says, bye, bye.
I still cry. How is that after all this time? I need to get at it, the rub of it. Soon. It is coming. I think. A story about a mouse. A mouse who hears a roaring. She needs to follow it, to find the source of the roaring. She is brave. She does it. She does.