It took a moment to work out what it was. I’d seen a cat earlier, trotting along North Road. You expect cats, night-prowlers that they are, but a rabbit, and by the seafront. Bounce, bounce, along the tarmacadam. Bobbing in the morning darkness.
The air was warm. I came out earlier than usual. At 3.30 am hordes of students were still slunking around town. The pizza and fried chicken shops were bursting with bodies, all shouting. Groups of twos and threes making their slow way back to Halls. One young man was clutching a traffic cone, screeching. A police car crawled up and down, not stopping, just observing. Beyond the castle the pip pip of oystercatchers echoed from below the sea wall. The sky was a mass of stars.
I was in work early and so was the guest. She was nervous, her eyes wide. I’ve never done this before, she said. She had a script with her, two pages of questions and answers. Do you think they’ll follow it? she asked. No, I said, trying to think of ways of calming her. They kept her waiting almost an hour. Budget day, important news, more important than the love letters she came to talk about. I’ve got to leave work early this afternoon, she said. It’s my cat. He was attacked last night. Oh, I’m sorry, I said. By another cat, she said. He’s rather timid. A colleague in the studio suggested that TV might like the story. The guest looked horrified. I’m don’t doing telly, she said. They’d found two boxes. Boxes of love letters. She was nineteen and he was fifty-nine. A pop star of his day. Long-forgotten now. She pursued him. They wrote in French. Someone kept them. Preserved. Was it her?
It’s his last day tomorrow on the tills. He’s retiring. I’m going to sell me house and me car, he says. What will you do then? we ask. Don’t know, he says. We’ll see where life takes me. His hands and face are a livid purple. They won’t let us wear gloves in ‘ere, he says. Is it his heart? He’s a bit of dandy, heavy chains of gold adorn his wrists and neck. A contented man, I think, except for his cold hands. We shake hands and say our goodbyes.
Always changes. Some stark, dramatic, others imperceptible.
I’ve four sessions today. I need to succumb to it. To fight it makes me uneasy. Let it be. No time to do anything other than sit and wait and make others comfortable. That is a good enough day, I think.
Overhead the clouds hover, static and stubborn. They promise sun later.
The owner calls the flat the crow’s nest. We are up high. High in the sky. Sometimes we are level with birds in flight. I like that. I can see their underbellies. They fly towards our window, only to swerve upwards at the last minute to land atop of the eaves.
Sometimes is it as if we live in the sky.