Author : Kevlin Henney

Morning light, autumn flickering a shadowplay across the curtains. Bright and windy out there, perfect for a walk — perhaps the woods? No need to rush, but it would be good to get out of the house. The kids will drag their heels to the door, to the car and all the way there. I’ll be telling them to hurry up, but at the first sight of sticks and mud they’ll be off.

Last week was busy. And the week before. And…

Yesterday rebalanced the scales a little, a slow day, all of us glued to screens and couches. We need more days like that, days where we can slow down, repace life, disconnect from a flow that has become a torrent.

I look to the empty half of the bed. Clocks went back last night. This Sunday lie-in has cost me nothing, but you’ve cashed in the extra hour. The household buzz suggests kids, TV, Xbox and dishwasher are all on.

But it feels like too much of the day has passed already. Perhaps my lie-in is not for free? I reach for my clock. Damn. The automatic hour change has messed it up — the minutes are flickering and the hour is way off. Reaching for my glasses, I hold my finger down on the reset button.

Yours too? Purring not ticking, hands race round the face like a track. Not sure I know how to fix that on your clock.

On your manually set clock.

Now through glasses I look again at the curtains. The light is more shadowplay than autumn. Everything has become sharper. Not sharper in focus — which seems to elude me — but sharper in colour. Colours are glowing, vibrant, effervescent. Wrong. Sounds are sharper. Higher. That’s more wavering high-pitched whistle than household buzz.

As I rise the covers fall back with surprising suddenness. I pull back the curtains. They resist and shudder, then sway and tremor with a flourish I don’t intend. But it’s not me. It’s not my intention, not my action, not me that’s at fault. It’s everything — everything else.

Fluorescent clouds race across a cobalt sky, a green-rinsed sun volleys behind them, blurs of colour and long-exposure trails along the street, impressions of cars, auras of people, shimmering trees with pools of blue-tinged leaves lapping at their trunks.

Beautiful. But I don’t understand.

Then a buzz. An insect? No, a whistling cry. I turn. You are standing, off-colour and coffee in hand. In your hand one moment. On the floor, spilt, cup broken the next. You are sketched and retraced, your detail and outline a blur, your mouth flickering, but your face one of constant fear.

You point. Not at the time-lapse world playing through the window but at me.

You point. It’s a question.

“What’s happening? I don’t understand,” I answer.

But you are gone. Between moments, one frame and the next, you disappear, a lingering impression of wide eyes and an open mouth. I miss what must have been the scream.

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